(Puebla, MX) – The 2013 World Taekwondo Championships drew almost 1000 athletes from more than 150 countries. Each Member National Association (MNA) is allowed to enter a maximum of one person in each weight division. There are 8 divisions for men and 8 form women. Depending on the country, these spots are highly contested for up to a year and a half before the event. See our report on the basics of the tournament.
Colorado had three athletes competing – Ahmed Alsubaihawi (58 kg Iraq), Khusrav Giyosov (68 kg Tajikistan) and Alisher Gulov (87 kg Tajikistan). Colorado Martial Arts News has been following their training and preparations over the last several months and was there as they stepped onto the mat.
Ahmed Alsubaihawi was up first, on Monday July 15th. He was training to compete in the bantamweight category (63 kg) but was told by the Iraqi Federation a few days before the tournament that he had to change to the flyweight category (58 kg) as there was another athlete who was higher ranked in 63 kg. Alsubaihawi lost the required 5 kg and made his weight, but his strength was affected. He faced from Domeneco Gemma from Italy. Alsubaihawi started off well, leading the match throughout. He lost a point to a cover punch when attacking from closed stance, and later changed his attack to ax kick. The resulting photo was picked up by the official World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Facebook page and widely shared. Gemma scored a headshot at the beginning of the third round, and Alsubaihawi was too fatigued to catch up. He ended up losing the match 9-11.
Next was Khusrav Giyosov on Wednesday, July 17th. He drew Thomas Afonczenko from Australia. Giyosov hit an early spinning hook kick to go up 4-0. They traded points and kyongos throughout, until Afonczenko hit a left leg crescent kick from the clinch with 12 seconds left in the third round. Giyosov had been blocking Afonczenko’s signature move throughout the match, but one slipped in. Giyosov tried frantically to get another headshot, but ended up losing by accumulating too many kyongos.
The final Colorado athlete was 2012 Olympian Alisher Gulov who competed in the heavyweight division on Friday, July 19th. Gulov’s first match was against a WTF wildcard from India who scratched. He then faced 2012 African Champion from Egypt, Mohammed Ayman. Gulov looked to be in control early as he hit a nice crescent kick, but his points were nullified and he was called for pushing. The match ended in a tie and went to overtime where Ayman scored a roundhouse to the body. It was a disappointing finish for Gulov, who had made the quarterfinals in the last world championships.
There was a large disparity in the funding that many national teams received, with some receiving only the entry fee and many receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars per cycle. The United States team finished the whole tournament without any medals, to the surprise of many observers. Even London bronze medalists Terrance Jennings and Paige McPherson were unable to gain the podium. The US Team doesn’t receive the same level of funding as many other teams do.
Master Bill Pottle summed up the results for the Colorado athletes. “It was frustrating to lose matches that we know we could have won. In a way this even reminded me of the infamous Broncos/Ravens game. However, that is the nature of sports, especially at a high level. Nonetheless, this tournament was a tremendous experience for these athletes that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”