World Taekwondo Qualification Tournament Kicks Off in Manchester, U.K.
A total of 328 athletes, including 189 male players, from 104 countries are participating in the World Qualification Tournament, which is under way at the Manchester Evening News (MEN) Arena.
The opening day of competition featured three weight categories – the men’s +80kg, the women’s -49kg and the women’s +67kg.
In the men’s +80kg class, France’s Mickael Borok placed, while Mali’s Daba Modibo Keita and Korea’s Cha Dong-min placed second and third, earning their respective country a berth at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In the women’s -49kg category, Chinese Taipei’s Shu Chung Yang placed first in the category, while Cuba’s Daynellis Montejo Poll and Canada’s Ivett Gonda placed second and third, respectively.
Greece’s Kyriaki Kouvari finished first in the women’s +67kg category, while Great Britain’s Sarah Stevenson and Mexico’s Maria del Rosario Espinoza placed second and third, respectively, giving their countries a place at the Beijing Olympic Games.
An opening ceremony of the World Qualification Tournament was held at the MEN Arena.
“For the next few days, the best athletes will do their best for a shot at Olympic glory,” said Chungwon Choue, president of the World Taekwondo Federation, in his speech.
“I am proud to announce that 328 athletes from 104 countries are participating in the tournament. Among this, 24 of the most deserving athletes will qualify for their national Olympic committees as a place in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games,” WTF President Choue said.
He continued to say, “Other than the athletes, 54 referees from 41 nations have been selected to officiate in the tournament. These referees have proven themselves to be the best at a recent Referee Selection Training Camp, and I have every belief that they have prepared themselves at the optimal level. They will deliver.”
“For this reason, I look forward to all athletes and referees delivering their best competition and refereeing standards, respectively,” he said. “We must all work together in unity to achieve this aim.”
The 54 referees are officiating this tournament were selected among the 184 participants in the WTF International Referee Training Camp for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Korea in July this year. Through the world and following continental qualification tournaments, the best 29 referees will be finalized in February next year.
A total of 128 athletes are to compete in the Taekwondo competition of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Through the Manchester world qualification, the top three athletes from each of the eight Olympic weight categories will qualify their national Olympin committees a place in the respective event.
Through the WTF’s five continental qualifications, a total of 96 places, comprising of 48 men’s and 48 women’s places, will be allocated. Asia, Europe and Pan America will be allocated 24 places each in the same competition format. Africa and Oceania will have 16 and eight places, respectively.
The immediate continental qualification is the African Taekwondo Qualification Tournament scheduled for Nov. 1-3 this year in Tripoli, Libya, followed by the Asian qualification Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
The Oceania qualification is slated for Dec. 1 in New Caledonia; the Pan-American qualification on Dec. 7-9 in Cali, Colombia; and the European qualification on Jan. 26-27, next year in Istanbul, Turkey.