Rwanda tops podium at African Open

Top-ranked Para taekwondo athlete Mohammed Aatif was stunned in the semifinal. 07 Apr 2017
African Para Taekwondo Open

African Para Taekwondo Open

By Lee Reaney | For the IPC

Host nation Rwanda topped the podium at the African Para Taekwondo Open in Kigali from 1-2 April.

The event saw several nations, among the 16 total, participate for the first time, including Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia and host Rwanda. A special refugee team also participated in the event.

Rwanda, who hosted their first Para taekwondo tournament, left with six medals (two golds, three silvers and one bronze). Jean de la Croix Nikwigize led the way for Rwanda by taking gold in the men’s under 61kg K41 event. The team’s only female athlete, Consolee Rukundo, took the title in the women’s under 58kg K42 category.

Spain (two golds, one silver) and Uzbekistan (two gold, two bronze) finished second and third respectively in the team standings.

Other notable performances included Nigeria’s two gold medals from Faith Obayzuaye in the women’s under 58 kg K44 and Samson Ukpera in the men’s under 61 kg K42.

Uzbekistan’s first-ever Para taekwondo gold medals came courtesy of Farkhodjon Mamaziyaev in the men’s under 75kg K42 and Ziyodakhon Isakova in the women’s under 49kg K44.

One particularly memorable moment is when Parfait Hakizimana – a Burundian refugee in Rwanda – won his opening match as a member of the refugee team.

There were surprises also in Kigali.

Morocco’s Mohammed Aatif – one of Africa’s highest-ranked Para taekwondo athletes – crashed out in the semifinal following a tense 11-10 semifinal defeat to Serbia’s Nicola Spajic in the men’s under 75 kg K44.

The 2017 Africa Para Taekwondo Open is a G4/G2 event, meaning that athletes from Africa earn more points for the world rankings than athletes from other continents.