Para-Taekwondo Continues To Make Strides

Photos from the 2015 Asian Para-Taekwondo Championships

May 22, 2015, 10:29 a.m. (ET)

(May 22, 2015) – Last month in Taipei City, Taiwan, Americans Evan Medell (Grand Haven, Mich.) and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Corbin Stacey (Cleveland Heights, Ohio) both captured medals at the inaugural Asian Para-Taekwondo Championships. They were among the 23 participating athletes representing 10 countries as para taekwondo kyorugi continues to flourish as a newly added sport on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games program. The participating countries at the event were Iran, Mongolia, Nepal, Korea, the Philippines, Uzbekistan, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Kazakhstan.

“The Asian Para-Taekwondo Championships was an awesome experience where I actually saw the next Steven Lopez of our new sport,” said Stacey of the 18-year-old Medell. “Evan has the potential to compete in the 2020, 2024 and 2028 Paralympic Games, as well as several world championships, beginning with his first this September in Turkey.”

In the K44, +75kg category, Iran's Asghar Aziziaghdam beat Medell, 12-5, in the final match for the gold medal. In the semifinals, Aziziaghdam ousted Stacey by a score of 3-0.

The inaugural Asian Para-Taekwondo Championships were open to participation by all WTF member nations. G4 world ranking points were awarded to Asian Taekwondo Union athletes, while athletes from other continents were awarded G2 world ranking points.

A KP&P protector and scoring system, and an instant video replay system were used. The duration of each contest was three rounds of one minute and 30 seconds, with a one-minute break between rounds.

Modified competition rules were used at this one-day event. Kicks to the head were banned. Punches were allowed, but no points were given. A valid kick to the body earned an athlete one point and a valid turning kick to the body three points.

Stacey is encouraged by the progress para-taekwondo is experiencing.

“We have made great developments on the USA side and I'm proud to announce the Veterans Administration has included us in their $8 million grant program to help develop our sport,” he said.

Initially, para-taekwondo focused on developing kyorugi for limb deficiency and arm amputee athletes. Since then, it has expanded to include athletes of all disabilities. Poomsae is now available for athletes with neurological impairments, intellectual disabilities (ID) or visually impaired (VI) athletes.

In March of 2014, the World Taekwondo Federation signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) for the further development of para-taekwondo for limb deficiency athletes and wheelchair athletes. This meant the WTF was connected to all four of the International Organizations of Sport for the Disabled, something that is essential to the development of para-taekwondo as an all-inclusive sport.  

Para-taekwondo sparring divisions for athletes 18 and older will be contested at the 2015 USA Taekwondo National Championships in Austin, Texas, July 4-11. All athletes competing in the para-taekwondo sparring division must be classified by a WTF classifier. There will be three weight divisions for both male and female: male fin (-61kg), male light (-75kg), male heavy (+75kg), female fin (-49kg), female light (-58kg) and female heavy (+58kg). The sport classes contested are K41, K42, K43 and K44.

Additional information on para-taekwondo can be found on the WTF website HERE.