The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Para taekwondo rankings are out for May, and Africa has its first ever women’s No. 1 ranked athlete. This comes after Morocco’s Rajae Akermach jumped from fourth in the women’s over 58kg K44 after winning gold at the African Para Taekwondo Open last month in Kigali, Rwanda.
Five countries are newly featured in the rankings, after athletes from the Democratic Republic (D.R.) of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and host nation Rwanda all earned world ranking points from their performances in Kigali. The African Open was a G4/G2 event, allowing athletes from Africa to earn more points in the world rankings than athletes from other continents.
Several African athletes joined Akermach in the top five of their divisions, including compatriot Soukaina Es-sabbar, who moved to No. 2 in the women’s under 49kg K44 after her silver in Rwanda.
Nigeria saw two athletes move into the top five, including Faith Obazuaye, who jumped from No. 6 to No. 3 in the women’s under 58kg K44 after winning gold at the meet; and Samson Saaondo Ukpera, who moved up six spots to No. 5 in the men’s under 61kg K42.
Rwandan Jean Marie Vianny Bizumuremyi moved into the top 10 in the same division after memorably securing silver at home in his first ever Para taekwondo tournament.
Athletes around the world also broke into the rankings.
In the men’s 75 kg K44, Spain’s Amado Garagarza moved up five spots to No. 7, while Serbia’s Nicola Spajic entered at No. 24 after winning silver in his Para taekwondo premiere by defeating Moroccan favoured Mohammed Aatif in the quarterfinal. Despite the setback, Aatif is at No. 3.
The USA’s Corbin Stacey moved up to No. 2 in the men’s over 75kg K44, after securing silver in Africa.
Showing the growth of Para taekwondo, several athletes competed in their first Para taekwondo event in Rwanda.
D.R. Congo’s Klose Kalwira entered the rankings at No. 10 in the under 75kg K42 after his performance in Rwanda.
The complete rankings can be found on the WTF’s website.