The Kingdom’s attention will once again be on taekwondo sensation Sorn Seavmey a year after her historic Rio Olympics qualification as the 21-year-old Asian Games gold medallist squares off today against Maisoun Farouk of Egypt in the World Championships now underway in the South Korean martial art heartland of Muju.
The country’s most eagerly awaited sporting moment in Olympic history ended in tears for Seavmey, whose best effort in the women’s +67kg last 16 was outweighed by the experienced Reshmie Oogink of the Netherlands 7-1 at the Carioca 3 arena in Rio.
But now stepping up to -73kg class and all the wiser after that fight of her life, Seavmey is bracing up for the challenge of shattering yet another glass ceiling.
On that unforgettable fight day against Oogink, Seavmey went in at 73kg on the scales, at least 1 kilogram heavier, 2 inches taller and six years younger than her opponent, but in the end it was the Dutch practitioner’s dexterity and controlled aggression that counted.
Seavmey’s coach Choi Yung Suk, however, has maintained that since her return from Brazil, the experience of qualifying for the Olympics has been invaluable and, despite that loss, she has emerged mentally a lot stronger.
Having served as a national coach since 1994, the South Korean Choi Yung Suk, who regards Cambodia as his adopted home, has been part of the success story involving both Seavmey and elder sister Sorn Davin, a SEA Games silver medallist in Indonesia in 2011 and Myanmar in 2013, and a bronze winner in the 2009 edition in Laos.
In today’s contest, Seavmey, ranked 994 with 145 points and a wining rate of 61 percent from her 13 registered fights, has a distinct edge over her Egyptian rival, who is ranked 2084 with 78 points at a winning rate of 50 percent.
Apart from Seavmey, the nation’s interest will also turn to Cassandra Nicole Tubbs, a Texan with a Cambodian mother who has been part of the national team for almost a year. She will be competing against Rafaela Araujo of Brazil in the women’s -57 kg category.
Earlier in the competition, young Cambodian hopeful Unvin Socharangsey was beaten by Canada’s Camille Dallaire in the women’s -49kg section. On the men’s front Chun Sok Leng will compete in the -63kg class.
On the second day of competition, Vann Rithy went down to Faysal Sawadogo of Burkina Faso in the men’s -74kg heats.
The Muju event is the largest ever World Championships staged, drawing more than 1,800 participants from 183 countries.
Experts predict that matches will be more lively and dynamic this year following the introduction of new rules.
After rule amendments were approved at World Taekwondo’s general assembly in Burnaby, Canada, last year, fighters are expected to display more attack oriented approaches and skills.
Meanwhile, before the World Taekwondo Championships got underway at the weekend, the sport’s governing body, the World Taekwondo Federation, announced it had changed its name to World Taekwondo after becoming uncomfortable with the “negative connotations” of its abbreviation, WTF.
The body, called the World Taekwondo Federation since 1973, had been considering a change since the slang abbreviation “WTF” gained currency on social media.“In the digital age, the acronym of our federation has developed negative connotations unrelated to our organisation and so it was important that we rebranded to better engage with our fans,” World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said on the body’s website.
The rebranding and launch of a new logo reflect a “commitment to evolving and adapting to remain relevant with today’s modern audiences”, World Taekwondo said.
Additional reporting by AFP