Largest U.S. Open Ever Set for Las Vegas, Feb. 12-15

Feb. 02, 2009, 5:03 p.m. (ET)

USA Taekwondo's 2009 U.S. Open will boast the biggest field in the history of the event. Set to take place Feb. 12-15 at the Las Vegas Tropicana Hotel, the U.S. Open will feature 1,741 athletes (surpassing the previous high of 1,637) as well as 461 coaches and 55 international referees.

There will be 59 different nations represented, including 17 national teams and 13 Olympians from the 2008 Beijing Games. The U.S. contingent will represent 47 states and include 2008 Olympian Charlotte Craig (Murietta, Calif.).

Also, for the first time in the history of the U.S. Open, the event will utilize the LaJust Electronic Body Protectors as a scoring system for the 14-17 year-old and adult (18-32 year-old) sparring divisions.

In addition, the U.S. Olympic Committee will be producing a highlight airing from this year's U.S. Open in Las Vegas. The 40-50 minute webcast will appear soon after the event on the USOC's website,

"We are excited and gratified to see unprecedented worldwide support for this important event," said USA Taekwondo CEO David Askinas. "The U.S. Open has long been recognized as one of the premier world events in the sport of taekwondo and USA Taekwondo is known for running the highest level events in the world. We worked very hard to secure a venue in Las Vegas for this event. We also dedicated ourselves to marketing the event for the last six months domestically and internationally and those efforts have clearly paid off. I also think it is fair to say that there is clearly interest in attending a high level taekwondo competition featuring the LaJust electronic body protector scoring system. There is a very good chance this system will be chosen for the upcoming world championships. If you combine all of those factors with the international lure of a Las Vegas vacation there was definitely a chance to make history this year. We are investigating the possibility of making Las Vegas a semi-permanent home for the event and we will be polling our customer base to gauge their interest in returning to Las Vegas in future years."

As part of its world ranking system which came into effect on January 1, 2009, the World Taekwondo Federation gave the 2009 U.S. Open the only G-2 rating among the international opens on the 2009 calendar. All other international opens were rated G-1.

2008 Olympians participating in U.S. Open:

- Charlotte Craig - USA
- Matt Beach - New Zealand
- Deepak Bista - Nepal
- Bineta Diedhiou - Senegal
- Kyriaki Kouvari - Greece
- Sebastien Michaud - Canada
- Tommy Mollet - Netherlands
- Vincente Mural - Spain
- Rosana Simon - Spain
- Adrian Spellen - Guyana
- Dickson Wamwiri - Kenya
- Shu-Chun Yang - Chinese Taipei
- Ivett Gonda - Canada