“Speaking to athletes, you can really feel their passion and their pride at being able to represent their countries at such a world-class event.”
The world’s best para-taekwondo athletes are gathered in Samsun, Turkey, for the sixth World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) World Para-Taekwondo Championships, which are set to be the biggest in the sport’s history and begin on Thursday (17 September).
More than 130 athletes from 38 countries will compete at the one-day event. This is an increase on last year’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia, which saw 111 athletes from 37 nations participate. This year’s World Championship edition will include athletes from United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Comoros, Nigeria and Niger debuting at the Championships.
The Championships are the first WTF-promoted para-taekwondo event since the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted to include taekwondo on the official programme of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
The IPC granted the WTF provisional member status in June this year, pending full approval in November at its General Assembly.
The Championships will feature both kyorugi and poomsae events. Kyorugi (K40) competition for athletes with physical impairments is recognised by the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport Federation (IWAS). The discipline will feature three male (-61kg, -75kg and +75kg) and three female (-49kg, -58kg and +58kg) weight categories.
Intellectually impaired athletes (P20 class) will also compete in para-taekwondo poomsae competitions.
IWAS, International Sports Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability (INAS) and Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association (CPISRA) have all officially recognised the Championships. The WTF continues to work with the International Organisation of Sports for the Disabled (IOSDs) to learn from their experience and expertise in offering the best competitions for athletes of all impairments.
“Speaking to athletes, you can really feel their passion and their pride at being able to represent their countries at such a world-class event,” Chungwon Choue, WTF President, said. “Our friends here in Samsun have done an excellent job at preparing for this Championships and everything is in place for an excellent event.”
“It is during events like this that you can really see that the work we are doing is paying off,” Choue added. “We know that there is a lot of room for improvement but each year we are seeing records being broken and more athletes from new countries getting involved in the sport. We must continue to build momentum and provide the best experience for our athletes and fans so that in 2020 we are able to deliver the best possible sport for the global Paralympic audience.”