WTF members pose after concluding a 5-hour-long council meeting at the Loong Palace Hotel in Beijing, China, Tuesday. / Courtesy of World Taekwondo Federation
By Kang Seung-woo
BEIJING - South Korean men and women taekwondo athletes aim to dominate the 2007 Beijing World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Championships to keep the country's dignity as the motherland of the sport.
The South Korean team came to Beijing Tuesday with the goal of sweeping gold medals in all 16 competitions, eight for men and women, respectively, at the world championships to be held Friday until May 22 at Changping Stadium in Beijing.
In Changping district, the atmosphere of hosting the world championships is increasing. On each side of highway from the Beijing International Airport to Changpiing Stadium, flags welcoming the World Taekwondo Championships are posted and people also express deep interest in the competition.
``I actually practice taekwondo. Nowadays, people in China are getting more interested in taekwondo. I guess many people will visit the stadium to watch the championships,'' a Chinese student, a freshman at the Capital Institute of Physical Education in Beijing, told the Korea Times.
About 17,000 players and officials from 124 countries will participate in the biennial taekwondo contest, which is the largest ever number of the participants in the history of the world championships.
In addition, as these championships will be representative of the clash of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, the competition is expected to become ever fiercer.
Although South Korea is confident of winning the championships, it is concerned about competitors' rapid growth.
On the women's side, host China is considered the toughest opponent to defeat on their way to the championships.
In the inaugural ceremony last Wednesday, Kim Jung-kil, chairman of the Korea Olympic Committee, said, ``If we go to decision, we are not favorable, so I urge you to try your best to win matches.''
South Korean teams are made up of new players and has only four Doha Asian Game members.
On the men's team, Song Myung-sub, a silver medallist in the featherweight class at the last world championships in Madrid, Spain, will re-try to secure a gold medal this time.
Choi Young-ho, 26, seeks his third gold medal after claiming two golds in 2001 and 2003.
The women's team favors Hwang Kyung-sun and Lee Sung-hye.
Hwang, 20, won a gold medal in the welterweight class at her last contest in Spain and Lee, 22, is a gold medallist at the Doha Asian Games in the featherweight class.
Meanwhile, the First International Symposium for the Taekwondo Studies was held at the Capital Institute of Physical Education Wednesday.
In a symposium with the title of ``The Pursuit of World Peace Through Fair Play,'' Croatian Taekwondo Federation president Franjo Prot spoke about ``Realization of Global Peace Through Fair Play'' and the other speaker, Willy Pieter, a professor of the University of Malaysia, talked about ``General and Time-loss Injuries in Taekwondo.''
The symposium will continue until Thursday.