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Deanna goes down fighting as Aussie Ashgabat campaign gets underway

19 September 2017

TAEKWONDO: It was a classic case of ‘the luck of the draw’ for Australia’s first taekwondo competitor at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) on Monday.

18-year-old Deanna Kyriazopoulos went down to eventual silver medallist Nayeon Han of Korea, who had an extra 12cm of height on her, in the -46kg category on the opening day of competition at Ashgabat 2017.

In what was a very close match up and low scoring contest, the Ashgabat 2017 Australian flagbearer held out Han for the majority of the first round, before a penalty against Kyriazopoulos and a body kick in the final few seconds opened up the scoring 3-0 to Korea.

The Sydney-sider put her own points on the board with a body kick in the second round, but a 3-point head kick in rounds two and three secured the 9-2 victory for Han.

Kyriazopoulos knew she was in for a tough battle when she drew Korea in the opening round, but was still positive about her performance regardless of the score board.

“A Korean fighter is always going to be good,” Kyriazopoulos said.

“In the past I have beaten Korea, lost by a golden point, won by a golden point, and won by more; it just depends on how you are on the day.

“Our skill levels were quite close, but next time I probably need to work on committing first and not letting her come at me first.

“It was a low scoring match and I did fight well, so it was a positive performance for me,” she said.

Australian taekwondo coach Shane Whiteway said the luck of the draw presented Kyriazopoulos with a challenging opponent in round one, but the experience will be invaluable.

“Deanna has been training very European style,” Whiteway said. “But then she came up against Korea who fights with a front leg chop.

“The mats are very slippery, so it didn’t suit Deanna’s style of play because she generally likes to move around the player and then come up underneath them.

“She did start to adapt to the different style of play, but it was too late.

“Overall a really great learning experience,” he said.

Kyriazopoulos is already thinking ahead to what she will take home to work on with her coach Ali Khalil, the Rio 2016 head coach and brother of two-time Olympian Sefwan Khalil.

“There is a lot to take from today and a few good things I’ll take back to training now, such getting away from their front leg and committing first.”

The Bachelor of Commerce university student is remaining upbeat and is looking forward to supporting the rest of her Australian teammates in Turkmenistan. 

“Overall the competition experience was good, it was very positive. The coaching was good, I was feeling really good today, my competitor showed good sportsmanship, and I did have a good time,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to heading out to the rest of the taekwondo competitions and to cheer on our weightlifters and wrestlers in their events during the week.”

Nayeon Han went on to win her next two bouts before going down to Xueqin Tan of China in the gold medal bout. 

Tuesday September 19 will see Will Afonczenko (-63kg) and Adam Meyers (-87kg) hit the mats at the Ashgabat Taekwondo DanceSport Arena.

See the full competition schedule and results HERE.

You can live stream the Games HERE.

Georgia Thompson
olympics.com.au

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