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Taekwondo family in the groove for Rio competition

17 August 2016

TAEKWONDO: With nine sets of siblings the Australian Olympic Team has quite a family feel to it but no section reflects that more than our Taekwondo athletes. 

Soon-to-be three time Olympian Carmen Marton and her debutant sister Caroline are Australia’s two female representatives who will compete in the -67kg and 57kg divisions.    

They’re joined by Carmen’s fiancé London 2012 Olympian Safwan Khalil (-58kg) and his long-time training partner Hayder Shkara (-80kg). For good measure Safwan’s brother Ali is the men's coach and a third Marton, brother Jack, is the women's training partner. 

The competing quartet have been in Rio for over a week and are ready to kick off their Rio campaigns. 

First up for Australia will be Khalil who competes at 11:45am Wednesday August 17 (12:45am Thursday AEST). 

“This last few days has been really good and I’m feeling really fit in the lead up to competition,” Khalil, 30, said. 

“I’ll be fighting against a Belgium boy (seventh seeded Belgian Si Mohamed Ketbi) who won silver at last year’s World Championships. 

“I’m not too focused on who I am fighting though, I’m more focused about myself and what my game presents and let them worry about me.” 

Second up will be Caroline Marton who is the nation’s sole competitor on Thursday August 18 and she is extremely pleased with how her preparation has been. 

“It’s been really tough back at home,” the 32-year-old said. 

“We’ve had some really tough training partners for the past six weeks and now we’ve started to taper, feel good and peak for the Games.” 

The older of the Marton sisters has been preparing for this moment her whole life and will be looking to shock the world in Rio. 

“It will be the best of the best but the Olympics of the past have shown that anyone can put it together on the day. 

“They’ve been many upsets and I’m hoping as an underdog I can be one of them.” 

Sister Carmen, 30, is then first up on Friday August 19 as she looks to go one step further than London and win an Olympic medal after, like Khalil, she lost the bronze medal fight in London. 

“The lead in to every Games has been really different but this one has been really positive,” she said. 

“I’ve had a number of coaches involved so it’s been a lot more hands on which has meant that no stone has been left unturned." 

At her third Games Marton will get a shot at redemption which has been four years in the making. 

“First up I have Turkey who I lost to in the semi-final in London so it’s the ultimate battle. 

“It’s what I wanted when I walked off the mat in London and that loss has given me a hunger through this four year cycle. 

“It’s a big challenge that’s what I’ve been working towards and I am ready.

“After feeling a bit tight in the first couple of days I now am feeling a lot fresher and I have a bit more of a flow.” 

For Shkara he feels he is also in his groove and knows he is exactly where he needs to be for the biggest event of his life. 

“I’m approaching this competition like any other competition,” the 26-year-old said. 

“I’ve got my team around me supporting me which is great and I don’t want to overhype it so I can perform at my best." 

Shkara will face Great Britain’s Lutalo Muhammed and is up for the challenge against the Olympic medallist. 

“He won bronze in London so he is going to be quite a formidable competitor and he has done well over the past four years so it will be a tough first fight.” 

Find out more about Australia’s taekwondo athletes and when they are competing here>>>> 

Matt Bartolo

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