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The young Jordanian scored a notable achievement in topping the men’s -68kg podium, securing his country’s first Olympic medal in any sport. Abughaush had already made history by winning through to the final against Alexey Denisenko of Russia, guaranteeing himself the silver medal at least. But that was not enough for the Amman student, who opened the scoring in the second round of the gold medal bout with a kick to his opponent’s body protector. Abughaush then landed two quick head kicks in round three before emerging a relatively comfortable 10-6 winner.
The bronze medals were shared between London 2012 champion Joel Gonzalez of Spain and the Republic of Korea’s Lee Daehoon, the man Gonzalez beat to take gold four years ago. “It’s an indescribable feeling to win the first medal in the history of Jordan in all sports,” said the newly crowned Olympic champion. “It’s also a great feeling to listen to the national anthem of Jordan being played in Rio in front of the whole world.”
The British fighter retained her Olympic -57kg crown in style, beating Eva Calvo of Spain 16-7 in the final. Jones started the bout confidently with two head kicks, only for her Spanish opponent to fight back and close the gap to 7-6 in the second round. Finding an extra gear in the final round, the Briton scored with a head kick en route to an ultimately emphatic victory.
“I was just so proud of myself for getting to the final again, so I just felt, you know, the pressure’s off I can just absolutely go for it,” said Jones after winning her second straight gold. “I wanted to become a legend, a double Olympic champion at 23 years old. I can’t believe it. A lot of people don’t know it’s so mentally tough and draining. It just shows all the hard work does pay off.”
“It means everything. I’ve been working a lot for this medal all these four years,” said Calvo. “Even when I started taekwondo, everything I did was for this medal. I am very happy. When I finished the fight I was a little sad, but now I am really happy because I have this medal.”
The bronzes went to Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin of Iran – a first Olympic medal for an Iranian woman – and Hedaya Wahba of Egypt – the first Olympic taekwondo medal for an Egyptian woman.
After beating Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden 5-1 to secure her medal, Alizadeh said:
“I am so happy for Iranian girls because it is the first medal, and I hope at the next Olympics we will get a gold. I am very excited and I want to thank my parents and my coach. They really stand behind me and I am so happy.”
“I wanted to make the Egyptians proud,” said an equally pleased Wahba. “The medal means a lot, because I put a lot of hard work into this. I train every day and got injured a few times and got back up, so it paid off in the end.”