Pan American Open attracts strong field

Taekwondo fighters aim to gain points ahead of Tokyo 2020 15 Jun 2019
female Para taekwondo fighter Claudia Romero turns her head to the side

Claudia Romero is a two-time Pan Am taekwondo champion

ⒸClaudia Romero
By Lee Reanley | For the IPC

Some of the world’s top taekwondo fighters will gather in Portland, USA, on 16 June for the opening of the Pan American Open looking to gain valuable ranking points ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

The competition is open for fighters from across the planet, with around 80 competing including current and former world champions.

The top four fighters in each K44 division, as well as the top two in each K43, at the end of the year will automatically earn a qualification position for their country at Tokyo 2020.

Mexican Diego Garcia Lopez and Brazilian Deborah Menezes are hoping to solidify their status within the world’s top four with a win in Portland.

At the same time, USA’s Brianna Salinaro and Evan Medell, and Mexico’s Claudia Romero seek to bounce back after disappointing performances at the 2019 World Championships in Antalya, Turkey.

Peruvian Leonor Espinoza Carranza needs to win to stay close to the top fighters in the women’s up to 49kg K44, but she’ll have to go through Mexico’s No. 2 Romero.

Eyes will also be on Brazilian Nathan Torquato in the ultra-competitive men’s up to 61kg K44. The 17-year-old won the last two competitions he took part in and is hoping to extend his winning streak on US soil.

Non-Americas fighters

In the race for rankings points, the tournament has drawn some other top fighters such as Mongolia’s reigning world champion and No. 1-ranked Bolor-Erdene Ganbat in the men’s up to 61kg K44.

In the women’s equivalent, China’s first Para taekwondo world champion Yujie Li will set out to prove that the victory in her first international tournament was no coincidence.

France’s Bopha Kong aims to continue his dominance of the men’s up to 61kg K43 with a 10th straight tournament win, while a gold for Morocco’s Rachid Ismaili Alaoui in the men’s over 75kg K43 would put him less than five points out of an automatic qualification spot.