The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have accepted that the number of bronze medals to be awarded in taekwondo at the Olympic Games will be increased to two starting with next year’s Olympic Games in the Chinese capital of Beijing. The governing body for the Olympic Games accepted the World Taekwondo Federation’s (WTF) request for an extra medal on the grounds that a third against forth play-off could undermine an athletes’ health.
As the world’s sole taekwondo governing body, recognized by the IOC in 1980, the WTF sent a letter to the IOC back in April to request the change. The approval of their request is seen as a great development for the sport with the WTF regarding the decision as ‘due recognition from the international sports community’.
This decision will be welcomed by all one-hundred and eighty-four countries within the WTF’s membership, including Great Britain. Gary Hall, Performance Director for The BTCB Sport Taekwondo UK Ltd, commented: “This decision is a massive step forward for the sport and will be warmly met by the whole international taekwondo community. Had this being in place in 2000, Sarah Stevenson would have brought home a bronze medal at a time when she was the youngest member of Team GB at the Games. An additional fight to determine a single bronze medallist could seriously undermine an athletes’ health. This will give the Great Britain squad an added incentive to qualify for the Olympics at the event in Manchester later this year and I have every confidence that team is on-course to do so.”
Simon Clegg, Chief Executive of the British Olympic Association, said: “The British Olympic Association welcomes the development of awarding a bronze medal to each of the semi-finalists in the Olympic Taekwondo tournament. This brings the sport of Taekwondo in line with the other Olympic fighting sports of boxing, judo and wrestling, and could improve medal prospects for Team GB in a sport where we have achieved great results outside Olympic Games but are still pursuing an elusive first Olympic Taekwondo medal.”
Whilst the Great Britain team is currently in excellent shape with a string of successes already this year including gold medals at both the Dutch and German Open’s, qualification for the Beijing 2008 is far from assured. September sees all one-hundred and eighty-four WTF member nations enter seven-hundred and twenty-eight athletes who will compete for their chance at Olympic glory.