Thursday, August 09, 2012

Taekwondo - more exciting than you'd imagine

Yesterday it was back to the Excel to see Taekwondo after I managed to bag a £20 seat from the ticket site over the weekend. If you're not sure what people do in Taekwondo, here's the one-word instruction manual...

They actually have electronic sensors on their feet to help them judge whether they've kicked the body (the pads have sensors too). All quite clever. The arena was packed, with big groups of fans from various countries (Spain and Thailand probably had the most). Actually, I think there were 7 different countries from three continents in the two lots of semi finals I saw. 

The next photo shows some of the kicking as it happened. I saw the quarter and semi finals across two weights, one men's and one women's. The Spanish woman in this pic made it through to the final, as did the Spanish chap I saw. He went on to win his final, so they bagged a gold and a silver in one night. Obviously most Brits won't know about that, because (quite naturally) you only tend to hear when you're own country has done well. 

But for Spain - who'd only won one gold so far this Olympics - it was obviously a HUGE deal to have so much success in one venue. That's the thing with the Olympics - there are massive stories happening all the time, but they're only really of interest to particular countries. Like Italy knocking reigning champs USA out of the men's volleyball last night in the 1/8 round. Huge shock. But doubt too many Brits know about it. Anyway, here's that kick...

The matches actually turned out to be a lot more exciting than I expected. There were two which ended up as a tie after the three periods (of 2 minutes), at which point they went to "Golden Point", ie the next person to score wins. And the use of video replays to check whether a score should've counted also adds to the drama. But the best match was the Spanish woman who was 9-4 down in her semi-final with a Thai with about 45 seconds to go and came back to win 10-9 following an amazing late flurry of scoring points. The noise in there at that point was incredible. And the Thai woman sitting next to me had tears of disappointment streaming down her face. 

It did take a while to work out what/how they were scoring, but after a couple of hours, you do really get into it (helped by one of the best commentaries on the commentary radio that I've had).  It's the first time I've seen Taekwondo at either Olympics I've been to, and it was definitely up there with some of the most enjoyable sports to watch. 

Women's football final tonight. Japan vs USA. 90,000 sell out at Wembley. Very much looking forward to it. 

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