Sport Olympics-Taekwondo-Heartache for South Korea as Olympics jinx follows Lee
Japan girds for a surreal Olympics, and questions are plenty
TOKYO (AP) — After a yearlong delay and months of hand-wringing that rippled across a pandemic-inflected world, a Summer Games unlike any other is at hand. It's an Olympics, sure, but also, in a very real way, something quite different. No foreign fans. No local attendance in Tokyo-area venues. A reluctant populace navigating a surge of virus cases amid a still-limited vaccination campaign. Athletes and their entourages confined to a quasi-bubble, under threat of deportation. Government minders and monitoring apps trying — in theory, at least — to track visitors’ every move. Alcohol curtailed or banned.
By Chang-Ran Kim
CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) - Top-ranked taekwondo champion Lee Dae-hoon lost in the first match of his final Olympics on Sunday, dashing South Korea's best hope for a gold medal in the national sport it once dominated.
Lee has won a trove of gold medals including three world championships and a record 12 Grands Prix, but the Olympic trophy has eluded him. He won silver in London 2012 and bronze in Rio four years later.
"It's my last Olympics so I wish I could have done better," he said. "I was well in my body and mind but my management of the fight could have been better; I was successful at the beginning but then I felt rushed."
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The Team GB athlete, from North Wales, already has two Olympic gold medals in Taekwondo - and is aiming for three in a rowThe 28-year-old, from Flint, is no stranger to historic victory after becoming the first British athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for Taekwondo at the 2012 games.
A 29-year-old father of a toddler, Lee said nerves also got in the way on the Olympic stage. South Korea has won a record 12 Olympic gold medals in taekwondo but no longer dominates the sport, which has athletes from 61 countries and territories, plus the Refugee Olympic Team, represented in Tokyo.
"Since the Olympic Games are really big, maybe I felt more pressure."
Popular in the taekwondo circle - he has won the peer-voted "Player of the Year" award more times than any other athlete - Lee said he was satisfied as an athlete, even as he wished for a different result as he prepares to retire.
His loss on Sunday, to Uzbek Ulugbek Rashitov, ranked 17th in the world, added another upset to a tournament loaded with surprises since it kicked off on Saturday.
Tied at the end of the three two-minutes rounds, Lee conceded a body kick to Rashitov in the "golden round", where the first to score automatically wins. As an ecstatic Rashitov jumped up and down pumping his fists, Lee crouched onto his hands and knees, head on mat.
The South Korean has a chance to return in the repechage stage if his Uzbek opponent advances to the finals.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
Olympics medal table 2021: live tally shows gold medals won at Tokyo Games 2020 - including Team GB’s total .
Our live Tokyo Olympics medal table shows how many gold, silver and bronze medals have been won by each country so far © Team GB have triumphed in scooping up gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 (Composite: Mark Hall/J... Team GB continue to scoop up bronze, silver and gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.Day five saw another gold secured by swimmers Tom Dean, James Guy, Matthew Richards and Duncan Scott in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay final.But there’s large shoes to fill for this year’s cohort of Olympians since Team GB finished second in the standings in Rio at the last Games in 2016.