Taekwondo competition closes on a high for American and French fighters
There were tears, stress and “a million emotions” as the USA’s Kendall Yount and Yoann Miangue of France struck gold on the final day of the Nanjing 2014 taekwondo competition.
Miangue took an early lead in the men’s +73kg final over his Ukrainian opponent Denys Voronovskyy. The tall Frenchman made use of his height advantage and, despite his opponent’s spirited attempts, won 6-4 to add the Youth Olympic gold medal to his bronze from the 2014 World Junior Championships (-78kg category).
“I was very stressed out before the final. These are the [Youth Olympic] Games, this means something, but it went well,” the Frenchman said. “I beat [Voronovskyy] in March at the World [Junior] Championships. I was not too confident, but my coach was there to reassure me.
“I came here to win. I was third at the European [junior] championship, third at the world [junior] championship. It feels good to finally change the colour of the medal.”
Miangue overcame Liu Jintao (CHN) in a dramatic semi-final by sudden death. In the other semi-final, Voronovskyy avenged his loss to Talha Bayram (TUR) in the Youth Olympic Games qualifying competition. Liu, 17, and Bayram, 16, earned the bronze medals.
The women’s +63kg final between Yount and Umida Abdullaeva of Uzbekistan was a repeat of the final of the Youth Olympic Games qualifying competition in March, which was won 4-3 by Abdullaeva.
Again, it was a close fight, but this time Yount came out on top, 4-2. A head kick in the final round made the difference.
“I was so excited, I was so honoured, I was so proud. There are a million emotions, but all of them are positive,” said the 16-year-old Yount. “The final was amazing. She [Abdullaeva] did so well, a lot of close shots.
“In the end it was a big kick that decided the match. I’m glad that I got it in. My dad got me into [taekwondo], because he thought it was a great sport for discipline and respect and I fell in love with it in my first class.”
Abdullaeva’s silver was Uzbekistan’s first ever Olympic medal in taekwondo, but she was disappointed not to finish in top spot. “I am upset with myself. I lost, that means I made mistakes in my training. I wanted to bring home this gold medal so much for my country and my mum,” the 17-year-old said.
On her way to the final, Yount beat world junior champion (-68kg) Yuliia Miiuts (UKR). Miiuts and LI Chen (CHN), who lost to Abdullaeva, shared the bronze medals.