Golden kicks’ are desperately needed.
Taekwondo, Korea’s national sport, is one of the most popular sports in the Asian Games (AG). Since becoming an official sport in Seoul AG in 1986, it has won a total of 53 gold medals. It is the second largest after shooting (63) and boxing (59). However, due to skill leveling, the majesty of the suzerain country is not what it used to be. This is why a golden run is needed in the upcoming 2022 Hangzhou AG. Jang Jun (23, Korea Gas Corporation), a Korean Taekwondo leader in the 58kg class, takes the lead.
◆A comet-like appearance
Jangjun, a boy who was jealous of his older brother, who was two years older than him, wearing a uniform, got his own uniform for the first time at the age of seven. But the momentary admiration ended in a brief spark. However, with the strong will of his father, who noticed his son’s athletic ability, and the recommendation of a Taekwondo instructor who was an acquaintance of his, ‘Taekwondo’ came back into Jangjun’s life.
He began his athletic career in the fourth grade of elementary school. In 2015, when he was a third year student at Hongseong Middle School, he started by winning his first national competition at the Jeju Peace Flag. He became famous nationwide and was selected as a member of the junior national team as soon as he entered Hongseong High School.
He won the bantamweight title at the 2016 Junior World Championships and the Junior Asian Championships in 2017. He was selected for the adult national team for the first time and gained experience by participating in the World Grand Prix for the first time (eliminated in the round of 32).
He made a mark at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang AG representative selection competition. Against 2014 Incheon AG gold medalist Kim Tae-hoon, he defied expectations and fought a fierce battle that even went into overtime in the second final. Although he unfortunately missed out on the ticket due to being deducted from the number of points, he engraved the ‘scary high school student’ Jang Jun in everyone’s mind. ◆ I walked the path of
continuous growth and becoming an ace.
The sadness of AG’s failure was alleviated by winning the Asian Championship and the World Cup team event that year. He also won a thrilling victory at the 2nd World Grand Prix in Moscow and became Korea’s youngest ever gold medalist. At the November Grand Prix Final, he defeated Kim Tae-hoon in the semifinals and reached the gold medal again.
In 2019, when I turned 20, good luck poured in. He first competed at the World Championships in Manchester, England, and immediately won the championship. He also swept all three World Grand Prix and became No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time. Although he finished second in the Grand Prix Final, his performance was such that the World Taekwondo Federation had no choice but to select him as ‘Male Athlete of the Year’. At the time, he was the successor to the ‘legend’ Lee Dae-hoon, who had won this award four times.
Jangjun is celebrating by unfurling the Taegeukgi after winning. Photo = Provided by the World Taekwondo Federation
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the dream of an inevitable crisis, has arrived. Aiming to advance for the first time in his career, he won two consecutive wins over Kim Tae-hoon in the Olympic team selection event to secure a ticket. It was a perfect generational change that once again brought down a senior who was a bronze medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics and a three-time world championship winner.메이저놀이터
An obstacle arose. The Olympics were postponed due to the novel coronavirus infection (Corona 19). All other international competitions were also put on hold. I groaned at the lack of real sense. Was it because of that? The Olympics held a year later did not deliver the golden news that was expected. He saved face by allowing an upset to Tunisia’s Mohamed Khalil Zendoubi, who was unknown, in the semifinals.
The bronze medal won without giving up was a consolation, but it did not wash away the shock that the entire Korean Taekwondo fell into a slump. All members of the national team, including Jang Jun, received only ‘no gold’. This was the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games that Taekwondo became an official Olympic sport. The pride of the suzerain was shattered, and Ace’s heart became disturbed.
◆ This is why the Taekwondo world is putting their lives on the line against Hangzhou AG in order to restore its reputation . Even here, we must be concerned that if the gold medal streak ends, we will immediately enter a dark era. Hangzhou AG and the 2024 Paris Olympics took on the role of a prelude to the Paris World Grand Prix held earlier this month, confirming the reality of the anxiety by ending up with no gold. Only Lee Da-bin (over 67 kg) and Hong Hyo-rim (over 67 kg) won two bronze medals.
The first AG that comes to Jangjun, who did not make it to the medals at all, can be a burden. However, a crisis is an opportunity. It is the perfect competition to leave a big mark that was left behind after winning the 2019 World Championships. In addition to finishing second in last year’s World Championships, he passed the AG representative selection competition without incident and was ranked second in the world, maintaining his overall sense well.
He said, “I don’t feel pressured, but I think I can still show a better performance than the Tokyo Olympics.” He added, “At the time, I could barely compete, but I went to the Olympics. “Although this AG has been postponed for a year, I feel good because I have been competing consistently so far,” he expressed confidence.
A total of 13 gold medals were awarded in this Taekwondo event (11 in Gyeorugi and 2 in Poomsae). Coincidentally, Jangjun is the first runner in the sparring event. The start will be announced on the 25th with the 58kg competition. The golden kicks he will embroider should be the starting point for restoring the honor of Korean Taekwondo.