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  Taekwondo
Host China, Mexico Win Gold on 1st Day of Taekwondo Competition at Beijing Olympic Games
Guillermo Perez (right) of Mexico and Gabriel Mercedes of the Dominican Republic are in action in the final match of the men's -58kg category on the first day of the taekwondo competition at the Beijing Olympic Games at the University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB) Gymnasium in Beijing, China, on Aug. 20, 2008. Perez won the gold medal. For Afghanistan, it was the country's first-ever medal in Olympic history.

Host China and Mexico showed their supremacy in taekwondo as they won one gold medal each on the opening day of the takwondo competition at the Beijing Olympic Games on Aug. 20, 2008.

The Dominican Republic and Thailand took the silver medal each, the first medal in the Olympic taekwondo competition.

In its first-ever participation in the Olympic taekwondo competition, Afghanistan also won the first medal in its Olympic history, as Rohullah Nikpai won the bronze medal in the men's -58kg category.

At a jam-packed University of Science and Technology Beijing (USTB) Gymnasium in Beijing, China's Wu Jing Yu, the gold medalist at the 2007 WTF World Taekwondo Championships, defeated Thailand's Buttree Puedpong, the first placer at the 2007 SEA Games, in the women's -49kg final match to earn her country the gold medal.

"I have been waiting for this day for a long time," Wu said after the final match. "I'm very excited now. I want to thank all the people who have helped me along the way. This is a reward for them."

"It is a breakthrough for China in this weight division because no Chinese have won a gold in this before," she said.

In the same division, the bronze went to Venezuela's Dalia Contreras Rivero, the second finisher at the WTF Pan American Taekwondo Qualification Tournament, and Cuba's Daynellis Montejo, the silver medalist at the WTF World Taekwondo Qualification Tournament.

In the men's -58kg final, Guillermo Perez of Mexico, the second finisher at the 2007 WTF World Taekwondo Championships, needed a fourth round to brush aside a stiff challenge of Gabriel Mercedes of the Dominican Republic for the gold medal.

"Finally my dream came true. I want to thank all the people who have supported me and thank all the people who have supported taekwondo," she said after the final match.

He said of his final-match opponent that "He is very strong and he fought very aggressively and he moved very quickly. His tactics are also very good."

Mr. Mercedes, born in November 1979, was the third finisher at the WTF Pan American Taekwondo Qualification Tournament.

The bronze in the men's -58kg class went to Afghanistan's Rohullah Nikpai and Mu Yen Chu of Chinese Taipei, the gold medalist at the WTF World Taekwondo Qualification Tournament. In the repechage round, Nikpai, the second finisher at the WTF Asian Taekwondo Qualification Tournament for the Beijing Olympic Gaems, defeated Spain's Juan Antonio Ramos to earn his country the bronze medal.

Starting with the Beijing Olympic Games, two bronze medals are awarded in each taekwondo weight category. A total of 128 athletes from a record 64 countries are vying for 32 medals up for grabs.

The first day of competition was held in a very orderly manner. The second day of the taekwondo competition on Aug. 21 will feature the women's under 57kg category and the men's under 68kg category.




 

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