[By NBC-1TV K, Y YI]MUJU, Korea (June 29, 2017) - The gold medals on the sixth day of the 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships were captured by Germany, Serbia and Niger as the finals of the M -87kg, F – 73kg and M +87 kg categories were contested.
On the penultimate day of the tourney, silvers were won by Russia, Korea and Great Britain, while bronzes went to Korea, Slovenia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Gabon and Russia.
M -87kg Category In the first semi-final, Vladislav Larin of Russia went in against Kyu-don In of Korea. An excellent fight, with plenty of free play and clean technique, it ended 6-6 and went to golden point - where the Korean lad fell, twice, giving the match to the Russian.
In the second semi-final, Alexander Bachmann of Germany took on Ivan Trajkovic of Slovenia in another very even fight that ended 15-13 to the German, whose close-range kicks and clinch game looked first rate.
The final pitted the icy-cool Larin against the wily Bachmann. Round 1 was a display of well-matched back and forth, single-kick play with no clear superiority, that ended 2-1 to Larin. In the second, a stumble and fall by the Russian bought the score even, 2-2, then, after a fast exchange, Bachmann drew ahead 5-4. There was everything to play for in the third. Bachmann unleashed a serial attack across the mats attack that gave him a 7-4 lead. But Larin is a dangerous finisher and a crescent kick to the German’s headgear bought the scores level, 7-7. A punch from Bachmann and a fall took the Russian 7-9 down - then 7-11. After an action-packed final few seconds of hurricane-force action, it ended 11-9 to Bachmann.
Silver went to Larin, while bronzes went to In and Trajkovic.
F - 73kg Category The first semi-final encounter featured world number one and 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist Maria “Fist of Fury” Espinoza of Mexico versus Hye-ri Oh of Korea, the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medalist and a big hometown favorite. The match proved a clash of physiques – the tall Oh versus the stocky Espinoza - and styles – long range kicks from Oh, versus a close-in game and active footwork from Espinoza. Oh came from behind in the third round to win it, 15-6.
The second semi-final pitted Reshmie Oogink of the Netherlands against London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Milica Mandic of Serbia. After a very evenly matched fight the score was level at 3-3. The golden point was won by the Serbian with a head kick – followed by a short victory dance.
The final was a showdown between the category’s two most recent Olympic gold medalists.
A stumble by Oh gave first blood to Mandic, then a round kick to the head gave her a 4-0 lead. Oh returned fire with a body shot, 2-4, then Mandic was penalized for raising her leg. The first round ended 3-4 to the Serbian. In the second, Oh went to work, raising her score to 8-5, with some accurate body kicks - including one fired while backpedaling on the edge of the mats: real skill. In the clinch, the Serbian was pushed to the deck, indicating surprising strength from the svelte Oh. Mandic got up and forced Oh backward. The round ended 9-7 to Oh.
In the third, after a flurry and a beautiful head kick from Mandic, the Serbian was 13-11 ahead. Her score rose after errors by Oh – then the board surged to 12-18. After an appeal by Oh’s coach, Mandic was docked one point, but was still ahead. Oh went on the attack it the last 15 seconds and force Mandic out, but the Serb veteran won it 17-13. A great result for Mandic; for her club Galeb in Belgrade; and her coach Dragan Jovic who has produced two world champions in this competition.
Oh won silver while Espinoza and Oogink took home the bronzes.
M +87kg category: The first semi-final was an all-African, Olympic silver medal clash: Anthony Obame of Gabon, the London 2012 silver medalist, took on Abdoul Issoufou of Niger, the Rio 2016 silver medalist. A brave show by Obame, but the leg length of Issofou gave a 9-16 victory to the towering lad from Niger – who ended the match by taking a knee in front of his defeated opponent. A nice touch that impressed the audience.
The second semi pitched Great Britain’s Mahama Cho against Roman Kuznetsov of Russia. The Briton played a brilliant game – superb distancing, great footwork and accurate body kicks - to win a convincing 22-4 victory.
The final was a showdown between the big man from Niger and the brilliant tactician from Great Britain. Battle commenced with Cho looking unintimidated by his head-taller opponent - but a stumble and fall cost him a point. A disappointing round finished with center-of-mat face-downs punctuated with short bursts of action: 1-0 to Issoufou.
Cho started the second showcasing some sweet footwork, but then the fight returned to center-ring psychological stare-downs. Cho tried a jumping round kick and fell again, going 2-0 down. Then he lost another point for clinching. The second ended 3-0 to Issoufou.
In the third, Cho appeared to land a head kick but it did not register and he was penalized for holding. Issofou raised his score to 6-1. Cho landed an arcing kick on Issoufou - quite a feat against such a tall fighter – taking the score to 7-4. It was appealed by Issoufou’s coach: Video replay showed that Cho had landed an apparently accidental face punch prior to the kick. The score was adjusted to 7-1. In the last seconds, Cho charged forward, forcing Issoufou off the mats three times in succession and raising his points to 4-9. The match ended on that score. A victory for the tall, cool Issoufou - but a disaster for Cho.
Silvers were won by Cho and bronzes by Obame and Kuznetsov.
Day 6 Preview The last day of the championship features the finals of the M -63kg, M -80kg, F-57kg and the F -62kg. The day will also be graced by the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach.
The 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships are the 23rd edition of the tournament, which runs every two years. With 183+1 nations participating, the 2017 championships are the largest ever, and are taking place at the Taekwondowon, the world’s largest taekwondo-dedicated training facility in Muju, in Korea’s southwest.
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