Taekwondo is one of those sports that suddenly piques the country’s interest when the Olympics come around.
So every four years we find ourselves googling “Taekwondo clubs in my area” and then realise we’re better off watching the stars on TV.
It’s a good sport to follow if you like to watch Brits winning medals, as Jade Jones aims for her third gold in Tokyo.
When is taekwondo at the Olympics?
Taekwondo runs between Saturday 24th July until Tuesday 27th July.
All four days will feature medal finals with Team GB superstar Jade Jones in action on Sunday 25th July.
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What is taekwondo?
Taekwondo is a competitive South Korean martial art, which was first introduced at the Seoul Olympic Games as a demonstration sport in 1988, then again in 1992. It was made a full medal sport in 2000 when the Games took place in Sydney, Australia.
According to British Taekwondo’s website, taekwondo literally translates as “the way of the foot and the fist. ‘Tae’ means to break or attack with the foot, ‘kwon’ means to break with the fist and ‘do’ translates as the art or way.”
The sport is notable for its powerful kicks at head-height. A contest comprises of three rounds, each lasting two minutes and judging officials award points to the fighters, much like in boxing.
What are the types of taekwondo competition at the Olympics?
The taekwondo events are split into weight divisions, with men and women competing in four different categories.
Only sparring is contested, while other elements of taekwondo do not form part of the Olympic competition.
There are medals to be won in:
Flyweight (58kg for men, up to 49kg for women)
Featherweight (68kg for men, 57kg for women)
Welterweight (80kg for men, 67kg for women)
Heavyweight (over 80kg for men, over 67kg for women)
Which Team GB athletes will compete in Olympic taekwondo?
If you’ve watched Olympic taekwondo, before it’s probably thanks to the brilliant Welsh fighter Jade Jones, who won gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 in the featherweight category. Jones will defend her title in Tokyo, and leads a five-strong team of British athletes.
Heavyweight fighter Bianca Walkden is a three-time world champion from Liverpool, who won bronze in Rio, while Mahama Cho is looking for a medal after finishing fourth in her category at the 2016 Games.
Doncaster’s Bradly Sinden is a rising star who will make his Olympic debut in Tokyo after becoming Britain’s first ever male world champion in 2019. Meanwhile, former kickboxer Lauren Williams is excited to compete in the welterweight category, having been a reserve in Rio.
This is the biggest British taekwondo team that has ever qualified for the Games, and GB Taekwondo Performance Director, Gary Hall says: “It is an incredibly strong and experienced squad, we’ve prepared the best we can and will be as best equipped as we can be.” Sounds promising!
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