Australia and Olympic Taekwondo
Taekwondo may have origins stemming back over 2000 years, but it was only at Sydney 2000 that it became an Olympic sport. Australian under-49 kilogram class competitor Lauren Burns had the honour of claiming the first Australian gold medal in taekwondo. Burns defeated opponents from Chinese Taipei and Denmark to reach the final against Cuba’s Urbia Melendez Rodriguez, which she won 4-2.
In 2000, Australia’s Daniel Trenton also won silver in the heavyweight class. At Athens 2004, Trenton and Carlo Massimino both reached the quarterfinals.
Fiancés Safwan Khalil and Carmen Marton represented Australia admirably at the London 2012 Games as they both finished agonisingly close to a medal in fourth position. Seeded eighth in the 58kg division. Khalil lost to the eventual gold medallist in the semifinals before losing to Russia’s Alexey Denisenko in the fight for bronze. Fighting in the 67kg division, Marton lost her semifinal against Turkey’s Nur Tatar before missing out on bronze after going down to Helena Fromm of Germany.
Taekwondo was a demonstration sport at Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992. The sport achieved full Olympic status, together with triathlon at Sydney 2000. Taekwondo literally means “the way of hand and foot” or, more specifically, “the way of kicking and punching”.
Competitors wear different coloured ‘tobok’ or uniforms – chung (blue) and hong (red) – and combat each other using punching and kicking techniques. While kicks to the body and face are permitted, only punches to the body are allowed. Vulnerable parts of the body are covered by protective equipment.
Taekwondo matches consist of three rounds, each of two minutes, with a one-minute recess between rounds. One referee and three judges manage the contest. Each scoring technique earns one point; the final score is the sum of all points won in the three rounds, after any penalties are deducted. Points and penalties are made public by electronic scoreboards.
As part of its ceaseless efforts to ensure fairer judging and refereeing, the World Taekwondo Federation will adopt an electronic protector system in the taekwondo competition at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
To progress into finals, competitors move through a single elimination tournament with a double repechage for the bronze medal contest. For an athlete to make it to the gold medal match, he or she must have progressed through the preliminary rounds undefeated; whereas the bronze medal match will be between two players who have each lost one contest.