[By NBC-1TV H. J Yook]BAKU, Azerbaijan (Dec. 11, 2016) - The WTF put on the ritz as it held its 3rd Annual Gala Awards in the ballroom annex of Baku’s Badamdar Hotel – and also raised over USD60,000 for its charity initiative, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, or THF.
As part of efforts to make the federation fully athlete-centric, the WTF Gala Awards offer taekwondo’s elite sportsmen and women the opportunity to network and relax in evening wear rather than tracksuits and in luxury surroundings rather than sweaty warmup zones, while dining on five-star hotel rations rather than high-protein energy bars.
In an opening address, WTF President Chungwon Choue discussed how the “World Taekwondo Family” enjoys both good times and bad times together, and how its humanitarian initiatives for refugees and displaced people around the world make it different from other sports organizations.
He congratulated the Azeri Minister of Youth and Sports Azad Rahimov – who attended the Gala Awards - on the country’s only gold medal in the Rio Olympics, won for Azerbaijan by Radik Isaev – one of the award nominees. Choue also shared the news that Djibouti had recently joined the WTF as a full member, meaning the WTF now has 207 member national associations.
He also commented on the amended rules and regulations, to be applied from next year.
“We will have a new taekwondo competition at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games,” he said. “I believe it will showcase taekwondo as the ‘best of the best’ combat sports in the world.” WTF Vice President and Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation President Kamaladdin Heydarov received a special awards by Choue. Heydarov thanked the WTF for holding its year-end events– the Grand Prix Final, World Taekwondo Team Championships and Gala Awards - in Baku, and was given a special award by Choue.
Minister Rahimov was also given a appreciation plaque. “It is a high privilege to be here with you and we are proud to host this event,” Rahimov said, noting that Azerbaijan “is a land of fire and a country of sports.”
A local warbler then took to the stage and, against a kaleidoscopic backdrop, delivering a series of local hits and lounge classics like “Georgia on my Mind.” The crowd amused themselves mugging for the roving camera, then got into the swing of things when a songstress appeared and delivered a pair of soulful Azeri numbers which had the crowd exercising their clapping muscles.
Then it was time for the awards. The Female Player of the Year award went to Great Britain’s double Olympic gold medalist Jade Jones. “I would just like to thank everyone who supported me - the support is phenomenal,” she said. “We train so hard, we are constantly getting pushed and getting the best training. Thank you everyone!”
The Male Player of the Year award went to Jordan’s Ahmad Abughaush, who delivered his country its first-ever Olympic medal in Rio – gold. He thanked the president and members of the WTF, adding, “I am so proud to be here with you, with the referees, coaches and players.”
The Referee of the Year Award, Women, went to Maria Merkouri of Georgia. “Thanks to all of you,” she said. “And thanks to my dear friends the referees – you are the best!”
The Referee of the Year Award, Men, went to Song-chul Kim of Canada. “I am really honored to accept this award, it means a lot to me and I would like to say thank you to all of the taekwondo family for supporting me,” he said. The Best Member National Association of the Year award was won by to Azerbaijan – a decision that was clearly popular with the crowd.
The Best Kick of the Year award was won by Cote d’Ivoire’s Cheick Salleh Junior Cisse (who did not attend) for his last-second jump spinning heel kick to the head of Great Britain’s Lutalo Mohammad - which won him the gold in the -80kg category in Rio.
The Coach of the Year award was won by Azerbaijan’s Reza Mehmandoust. He noted that his team had great support and thanked Choue and all persons attending.
The last event of the gala awards was the THF Challenge. Branded “Break Boards, Change Lives” the event was rapid fire, with various VIPs being invited to the stage to break a board, pledge a donation and challenge another person present.
Among those who took the challenge and made donations were: Rahimov and Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation President Kamaladdin Heydarov, who pledged USD30,000 on behalf of Azerbaijan’s National Olympic Committee, the Azerbaijan Taekwondo Federation and the Azerbaijan Ministry of Youth and Sport; Choue, who pledged USD10,000 on behalf of himself and the WTF staff; Russian Taekwondo Federation President Anatoly Terekhov who pledged USD10,000; WTF Secretary General Hoss Rafaty, who pledged USD5000; and WTF Referee Committee Chairman Chakir Chelbat who pledged USD4500 on behalf of himself and the referees.
In all, over USD60,000 was raised for the THF.
Following the awards, dinner was served. There may be some sore heads tomorrow as the federation returns to business as usual: The 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Team Championships kick off at 10:00 AM on Dec. 12 at the Sardhachi Olympic Center for a two-day run.
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[By NBC-1TV H. J Yook]Spain's Eva Calvo Gomez shows off her gold medal during the awarding ceremony for the women's -57kg category on the third and final day of the 2014 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series 2 at the Sport Center Daulet in Astana, Kazakhstan on Aug. 31, 2014.
[NBC-1TV 이광윤 보도국장]방한중인 누르술탄 나자르바예프(Nursultan Nazarbayev) 카자흐스탄 대통령이 11일 오후, 2박 3일간의 국빈일정을 마치고 전용기편으로 서울공항을 통해 출국했다. 나자르바예프 대통령은 10일 박근혜 대통령과 정상회담을 갖고 한-카자흐스탄 전략적 동반자관계를 평가하고 교역·투자와 에너지·자원 인프라·보건·의료 등의 분야에서 경제협력을 확대하는 방안을 심도있게 논의했다. 자원부국인 카자흐스탄은 중앙아시아에서 우리나라의 최대 투자 대상국으로 1991년 독립 이후 자발적으로 핵무기를 포기하고 중앙아시아 비핵지대화 설립을 주도하는 등 비핵화에 앞장서 오면서 북핵 문제에 대해서도 우리와 공조하고 있다. 한편 나자르바예프 대통령은 청와대 회담에 앞서 10일 오전 국립서울현충원을 참배했으며, 늦은 오후에는 연세대학교를 방문해 경영관 용재홀에서 명예철학박사 학위를 받았다.
[NBC-1TV 이광윤 보도국장]방한중인 누르술탄 나자르바예프(Nursultan Nazarbayev) 카자흐스탄 대통령이 10일 오후 연세대학교 경영관 용재홀에서 명예철학박사 학위를 받았다. 연세대는 "나자르바예프 대통령이 카자흐스탄의 경제발전과 국민 건강 및 복지 증진에 공이 크다"고 선정이유를 밝혔다. 한편 연세대는 세브란스병원과 카자흐스탄 국립대학과 의료 컨설팅 및 원격진료 체계 구축을 돕는 의료 MOU를 체결한 바 있다.