Park Woo-hyeok wins South Korea’s 5th gold medal in taekwondo at the Asian Games
An Unforgettable Victory for South Korea in Taekwondo at The Asian Games
South Korean taekwondo athlete Park Woo-hyeok emerged victorious, securing the country’s fifth Asian Games gold medal in taekwondo on Wednesday.
A Riveting Final Showdown
In the medal-determining round of the men’s -80kg division at the Lin’an Sports Culture & Exhibition Centre in Hangzhou, China, Park triumphed over Saleh Elsharabaty of Jordan with a 2-0 score. This impressive win culminates in Park’s long-awaited first Asian Games title and marks South Korea’s fifth gold acquisition in the indigenous martial sport at the ongoing Hangzhou Games. This is subsequent to two gold medals from the poomsae discipline and three from the kyorugi category.
Park is the first South Korean to dominate the -80kg division, the welterweight class, in the Asian Games since 2002. In a thrilling final, he squared off against one of the leading medal hopefuls at the Hangzhou Asiad, Jordan’s Elsharabaty, who clinched the silver medal in this weight class at the Tokyo Olympics.
A Nail-biting Victory
After a compelling lead of 8-5 in the inaugural round, Park forged ahead with a 4-0 lead as the bout neared its final 40 seconds. In a sudden turn of events, Jordan’s Elsharabaty retaliated fiercely with a fleet of deft kicks to the head and body, catapulting him into a 5-4 lead. Yet, with two penalties incurred by Elsharabaty, Park seized the lead back and affirmed his victory with a 6-5 score.
Expressing his joy, Park stated, “I am happy that I contributed to taking a step toward helping Korean taekwondo prove its class”. “I could finish first thanks to the Korean people’s support,” he said, attributing his victory to the overwhelming support of his homeland.
A Closely Contested Semifinal
The road to victory didn’t come easy for Park; his semifinal clash against Mehran Barkhordari of Iran was a tight one. Despite leading the first round 6-3, Park found himself trailing in the second round with a score of 11-8. In a heated third and decisive round, the scores were deadlocked at 10-10. Nevertheless, Park clinched his berth in the finals courtesy of the total points accumulated from actual strikes.
A Flourishing International Career
Park Woo-hyeok, a formidable gold medal contender at the Asian Games, has been impressing fans with his incredible performances on the global stage. The 23-year-old ace was crowned the world champion in the men’s -80kg division at the 2022 World Championships, marking the nation’s first triumph in the same weight category since 1999.
Park’s admirable victory extends South Korea’s taekwondo winning streak to its fourth consecutive day since it kick-started last Sunday. Park has now set sight on earning his spot for the Paris Olympics next year, for which he requires more points.
Looking Ahead: The Road to Paris
Though elated with his Asian Games victory, Park acknowledged that there’s more work ahead, saying, “I haven’t yet earned a berth for the Paris Olympics. I’ll work hard at the upcoming Grand Prix competitions in order to go to the Olympics.”
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