Heartache for South Korea as Olympics jinx follows top-ranked Lee | Inquirer Sports
Close  

Heartache for South Korea as Olympics jinx follows top-ranked Lee

/ 03:26 PM July 25, 2021
FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Taekwondo - Men's Featherweight 58-68kg - Last 16 - Makuhari Messe Hall A, Chiba, Japan - July 25, 2021. Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan and Lee Dae-Hoon of South Korea react after competing REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan and Lee Dae-Hoon of South Korea react after competing in the Last 16 of the Tokyo Olympics taekwondo on July 25, 2021. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

CHIBA, Japan—Top-ranked taekwondo champion Lee Dae-hoon lost in the first match of his final Olympics on Sunday, dashing South Korea’s best hope for a gold medal in the national sport it once dominated.

Lee has won a trove of gold medals including three world championships and a record 12 Grands Prix, but the Olympic trophy has eluded him. He won silver in London 2012 and bronze in Rio four years later.

ADVERTISEMENT

“It’s my last Olympics so I wish I could have done better,” he said. “I was well in my body and mind but my management of the fight could have been better; I was successful at the beginning but then I felt rushed.”

A 29-year-old father of a toddler, Lee said nerves also got in the way on the Olympic stage. South Korea has won a record 12 Olympic gold medals in taekwondo but no longer dominates the sport, which has athletes from 61 countries and territories, plus the Refugee Olympic Team, represented in Tokyo.

FEATURED STORIES

“Since the Olympic Games are really big, maybe I felt more pressure.”

Popular in the taekwondo circle – he has won the peer-voted “Player of the Year” award more times than any other athlete – Lee said he was satisfied as an athlete, even as he wished for a different result as he prepares to retire.

His loss on Sunday, to Uzbek Ulugbek Rashitov, ranked 17th in the world, added another upset to a tournament loaded with surprises since it kicked off on Saturday.

Tied at the end of the three two-minutes rounds, Lee conceded a body kick to Rashitov in the “golden round”, where the first to score automatically wins. As an ecstatic Rashitov jumped up and down pumping his fists, Lee crouched onto his hands and knees, head on mat.

The South Korean has a chance to return in the repechage stage if his Uzbek opponent advances to the finals.

RELATED STORIES

EXPLAINER: Taekwondo at Tokyo Olympics

Teenagers cause upsets on first day of taekwondo tournament 

Taekwondo: Korean combat sport looks to put best foot forward

Get the hottest sports news straight into your inbox

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.
Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: South Korea, Tokyo Olympics
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.

Subscribe to our sports news

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and
acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2021 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.