Africa has emerged the new powerhouse of taekwondo after an Ivorian, Cheick Sallah Jnr Cisse, won a gold medal in the event at the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Other Africans also won five other medals, all of them making their first wins at the Olympics that were full of surprises.
Cisse had a special moment when he clinched gold, the first ever Olympic gold for Cote d’Ivoire, with a last-second head kick in the men’s -80kg final.
Ahmad Abuagha became Jordan’s first Olympic medallist in any sport when he won the men’s -68kg and moved the royal family of Jordan to tears.
Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga of Niger won silver in the men’s +80kg, the second Olympic medal for Niger in any sport. Boxer, Issaka Dabore had earned a bronze in 1972 for the country.
The bronze medal for Hedaya Wadahba of Egypt in -57kg was the first in taekwondo for an Egyptian woman and Tunisia got their first taekwondo medal with the bronze off Oussama Oueslati in the men’s -80kg.
Gen. Lassana Palenfo, President, Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), acknowledged these efforts as visible signs from vital support that ANOCA gave to the athletes to prepare for the Games.
“I am proud of these athletes. Africa has great potential. It is sad that many of Africans are competing in colours of other Nations.
“We must continue to look inwards and I urge all our governments in the continent, corporate bodies and the Olympic Solidarity to continue to support the re-engineering of sports in the African continent.
Palenfo, who is also the Ivorian Olympic Committee President, gave the commendation when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Rio de Janeriro.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s bronze medallist at 2008 Beijing Games, Chika Chukwumerije, has praised Niger Republic’s Issoufou Alfaga Abdoulrazak for winning a silver medal at the Rio Games.
“He has followed up his 2013 exposure by winning silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the +80kg weight category,’’ said Chukwumerije in a statement on Sunday.
The Founder of Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation (CCSF) International Taekwondo, said: “The 6ft 9ins” competitor had his very first exposure to the Daedo Electronic System.
“The electronic system was used at the Rio 2016 Olympics during the CCSF Open editions held in 2013, when he won the edition.
“It is a historic development for West Africa as a total of three medals were won by the region.
“Cote D’Ivoire’s Cheick Sallah Cissé, the current African Champion, took a big step forward, winning a gold medal.
“He had beaten men’s (-80kg category) bronze medallist at the London 2012 Olympics, Lutalo Mohammed in an 8-6 in an epic final.
“In winning the gold medal, the 23-year old showman has become the first ever African to win an Olympic gold medal in the taekwondo.
“He is also the first Ivorien to win an Olympic gold medal,’’ the statement said.
His compatriot, 22-year-old Ruth Gbagi, an African Champion, won an Olympic bronze medal after defeating Azerbaijan’s Farida Azizova , 7-1.
“The double Olympic medals won by the West African nation marks an extraordinary climax to the investment in the taekwondo development project over the past four years.
“The Cote d’Ivoire’s team is coached by an indigenous coach, Attada Tadjou, who is half-Nigerian. (NAN)