Guatemala’s Gersson Mejia will fight to defend his title at the Pan America Para Taekwondo Open Championships that begin Friday (13 July) in Spokane, Washington, USA.
He remembered the moment he defeated Canada’s Anthony Cappello to claim the gold last year, which was also his first international title.
“I faced a great athlete in a close match,” Mejia said. “I was able to take advantage in the (tie-break) golden round.”
World No. 5 Mejia and No. 4 Cappello, who is still searching for his first international title, will both need to deal with France’s top-ranked Bopha Kong in the men’s up to 61 kg K43.
Kong topped Mejia at the 2016 edition and has not lost a competition this year.
As the PanAm Open gives Americas athletes twice as many ranking points, Mejia would hope to improve his position, as the top two in his category by the end of 2019 earn a slot for their country at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, where taekwondo will debut.
“I try to be in my best physical and mental form … to give the best of me,”
said Mejia, who trains four hours a day, five times a week.
Best of the rest
The USA will cheer on home favourite Evan Medell. But the world No. 3 will have to meet Croatia’s No. 1 Ivan Mikulic to maximise his ranking points in the men’s over 75 kg K44.
Medell’s teammate Brianna Salinaro will try to retain her title in the women’s up to 58 kg K44.
Mongolia’s Bolor-Erdene Ganbat enters as the top-ranked fighter in the men’s up to 61 kg K44, and Great Britain’s Amy Truesdale headlines the women’s up to 58 kg K44.
The 2018 Pan America Para Taekwondo Open Championships feature 83 athletes from 28 countries. More information can be found online