Hangzhou 2022 APG Taekwondo Preview: Focus on Uzbekistan, Mongolia fighters in sport’s debut

After a successful Paralympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games, Para Taekwondo is expected to be one of the major highlights at Hangzhou 2022 as sport will be played for the the first time at the Asian Para Games.

A total of 77 fighters from 17 nations will be vying for top honours 10 events at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre, with high level skills and technique on display for three days starting October 23.

At the recent 10th World Para Taekwondo Championships and Grand Prix in Veracruz, fighters from Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Kazakhstan.

Uzbek fighters among favourites

Uzbekistan’s Isakova Ziyodakhon announced her arrival on the big stage after winning the women K44 -47kg in Veracruz, halting Peru’s Paralympic champion Leonor Angelica Espinoza Carranza’s winning run for her first World Championships title.

Republic of Korea’s Joo Jeonghun goes for a kick at the K44 men’s – 80 kg finals.

This was the Uzbek’s first title of the season winning it less than one year until the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. “I am very happy to win the gold medal here. It’s a dream come true, and I want to keep working hard to qualify for the Paralympic Games. I am also focused to win medals at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games,” Isakova was quoted as saying by World Taekwondo website.

Another women fighter from Uzbekistan, Guljonoy Naimova, should be among the medals of women’s K44 + 65kg after her golden show at the Taiyuan 2023 World Para Taekwondo Grand Prix that was played early this week. She shocked reigning world champion Amy Truesdale in the finals.

The hosts China will be also hoping to win some medals with their medal hopes resting on their Tokyo 2020 Paralympic bronze medallist Li Yujie who claimed the gold in the recent Taiyuan Grand Prix in women’s K44 -57kg category.

China’s Li Yujie gets a confidence boosting win ahead of Asian Para Games at home.

Tight battle in men’s events

Naimova’s fellow fighter Asadbek Toshtemirov captured the men’s K44 – 80kg gold medal in the Worlds but will have to be ready to face a tough challenge from Republic of Korea’s Joo Jeonghun, the Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist, and Nurlan Dombayev of Kazakhstan.

Jeonghun, who finished with silver, has clinched the gold medal in the Veracruz 2023 Grand Prix.

Chinese Taipei’s Xiang Wen Xiao will be another player to watch out after his impressive show in a high-intensity men’s K44 – 58kg event. He might have settled for the silver in the Veracruz 2023 Worlds, but he returned home with a big positive – he shocked world no. 1 Ali Can Ozcan of Turkey in the semi-finals.

Iran will rely on their Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medallist Mahdi Pourrahnama (men’s K44 -70kg) and Alireza Bakht (men’s K44 – 80kg), who won five titles last year, to bring home a few medals.

However, Pourahnama should be ready face a strong challenge from Uzbekistan’s Javokhir Alikulov who finished with silver at the Worlds and Japan’s Shunsuke Kudo who ended with silver in the two recent Grand Prixs.

Mongolia look to excel

Mongolia’s Surenjav Ulambayar claimed the women’s K44 – 52kg gold medal at the Taiyuan 2023 Grand Prix in China.

Mongolia will also have some top names who would be eager to finish on top at the first Asian Para Games. The side will be led by seasoned star Bolor-Erdene Ganbat, a former world champion and bronze medallist this time. Recently he took a gold and silver at the Veracruz 2023 Grand Prix and Taiyuan 2023 GP.

Surenjav Ulambayar, who recently claimed the women’s K44 – 52kg gold medal at the Taiyuan 2023 Grand Prix and silver and bronze at the Veracruz 2023 WPT Grand Prix and Worlds.

The Para Taekwondo Kyorugi K44 events will be played at the Xiaoshan Guali Sports Centre from October 23 to 25, 2023.

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