Between now and next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio we will be focusing on the different sports and Team GB athletes to keep an eye out for. The latest Olympic Spotlight sees us concentrate on taekwondo.
Where: Carioca Arena 3, Barra de Tijuca
When: August 17-20
Medal events: 8 (Men’s -58kg, -68kg, -80kg, +80kg, Women’s -49kg, -57kg, -67kg, +67kg)
Did you know: Taekwondo is one of the two martial arts to be included in the Olympics (the other one is judo)
About the sport:
The earliest form of taekwondo is believed to date back to around 50 B.C in Korea, with mural painting on royal tombs, stone sculptures and documents showing fighting techniques and stances that are likely to be the origins of taekwondo.
The taekwondo as we know it today was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by Korean martial artists. They combined aspects of Chinese martial arts and karate, as well as several Korean indigenous fighting styles.
Taekwondo became an Olympic medal event at 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and it was a demonstration sport at Seoul in 1988 and Barcelona in 1992.
Over the years, the Republic of Korea has reigned supreme in taekwondo at the Olympics, incredibly winning nearly a third of the gold medals that have been on offer so far.
There are 128 places available at the Olympic Games. The top six ranked athletes in the world rankings for each weight division in taekwondo after the Grand Prix Final of December 2015 determined the qualification of 48 athletes (there is one quota place per weight division for each of their countries).
72 fighters will also be chosen from five continental competitions in the build up to the Olympics.
Brazil also has two places guaranteed for each gender, in the categories of their choice.
Only countries who have qualified less than two athletes for men’s and women’s taekwondo can compete at the aforementioned Continental Qualification events.
Based on their world rankings, Lutalo Muhammad (-80kg), Jade Jones (-57kg) and Bianca Walkden (+67kg) all secured a place for Team GB in their respective categories at the Rio Olympics.
Mahama Cho (+80kg) then won the European qualification tournament in Istanbul, Turkey to win another spot for Team GB.
Did you know: Sarah Stevenson won Team GB’s first ever medal in taekwondo in the +57kg women’s category at 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
Team GB success:
Including Stevenson’s medal, Team GB have won three medals in taekwondo at Olympic Games, with two bronzes and one gold.
Jade Jones became the first British taekwondo athlete to win Olympic gold at the age of just 19 at London 2012. Jones, from North Wales, beat China's Huo Yuzhuo 6-4 in the -57kg final at the ExCeL arena, having earlier upset world number one and favourite for gold Tseng Li-Cheng of Chinese Taipei in the semi-finals.
Lutalo Muhammad won the other British medal with bronze at London 2012, beating Armenia’s Arman Yeremyan of Armenia in the -80kg bronze medal match.
Team GB hopes for Rio:
World number one Jade Jones, Lutalo Muhammad and Bianca Walkden all secured quota places in the -80kg, -57kg and +67kg categories respectively while most recently Mahama Cho won the European qualification tournament in Istanbul to secure an additional place in the +80kg.
It all means Team GB will have four taekwondo representatives in Rio, although the exact line up is yet to be determined with individual athlete places not confirmed until later in the summer.