Should we worry that the home page for the 2011 World Championships at 2011taekwondo.org has been replaced by a 400-word piece of prose? It starts with this: ”The happiness is simple that they did not guess, who it such. And they have demanded, that it has collected installation. And it has made it. But he knew that first of all will code him.” What is this, an online numbers station?
This sport has its idiosyncrasies. Let’s leave it at that.
In any case, the last picks were done after the World Championships. Then the WTF released an Olympic ranking. If you follow that link, the PDF you really want is the “draw sheet,” which lists the top eight seeds. The rankings are a bit more, um, detailed. And remember that we only have eight Olympic weight classes, and each country can only enter four. So a lot of what we’re doing here is checking to see which of our 2011 favorites actually wound up going to London.
Strap on your chest protector, head gear and electronic sensors. Away we go.
58kg: Spain’s Joel Gonzalez has the world championship and top seed. The only other athlete we mentioned last time around who is going to London is the Dominican Republic’s Gabriel Mercedes, the silver medalist in Beijing and fourth seed here. No. 2 is Chinese Taipei’s Wei Chen Yang; No. 3 is Thailand’s Pen-Ek Karaket. They’re all ranked in the top five. The next seed is ranked 10th. Was ESP-THA-MEX-POR; now Spain, Chinese Taipei, Dominican Republic, Thailand
68kg: World champion Servet Tazegul of Turkey is ranked and seeded ahead of Motamed Mohammad Bagheri of the powerhouse Iranian team. Jordan’s Mohammad Abulibdeh is next. Britain’s Martin Stamper is ranked 10th but seeded fourth, perhaps in anticipation that he’ll excel at home. The fifth seed is sixth-ranked Peter Lopez of Peru. The USA’s Terrence Jennings will compete here. We picked South Korea first last time, but they didn’t enter this class. Was KOR-TUR-GBR-AFG; now Iran, Turkey, Britain, Jordan
80kg: Britain’s Aaron Cook is No. 1, though he was upset last year at Worlds in the round of 64 by the USA’s Luke Ford. He also seems to be a good guy, paying tribute to the USA’s billion-time World/Olympic champion Steven Lopez after knocking him out like Mirko Cro Cop in his prime back in 2009. And we hope he has a good seat, because Britain has opted to send 103rd-ranked Lutalo Muhammad. Cook appealed for months, to no avail. The No. 1 seed is his absence is Azerbaijan’s Ramin Azizov, then Morocco’s Issam Chernoubi, then Egypt’s Ahmed Abdelrahman. Way down the list is the sporadically active Lopez, and we’re picking him to medal anyway. And then we hope he and Cook get a megamillion-dollar rematch. Canada is sending the former No. 1, Sebastien Michaud, whch we appreciate because none of our other original picks are there. Was IRI-TUR-CAN-THA, now Azerbaijan, Morocco, Canada, USA
80+kg: How did Iran pick its Olympic team? All these impressive performances in last year’s World Championships, and the only two guys they’re sending are ranked second at 68kg and 36th at 80kg? They’ll have no one here, leaving the door open for South Korea’s Dong-Min Cha to repeat. Uzbekistan’s Akmal Irgashev is only the seventh seed here but has a good track record at a higher (non-Olympic) weight class. Canada’s Fortier Francois Coulombe is seeded second; Italy’s Carlo Molfetta third. Was IRI-KOR-UZB-ITA; now South Korea, Canada, Uzbekistan, Italy
49kg: OK, we made the “gymnast” joke last time. Olympic and world champion Wu Jingyu is the top seed. Last time, we worried that Spain’s Brigitte Yague and Morocco’s Sanaa Atabrour might not make the cut, but they did — they’re seeded third and fourth behind Chinese Taipei’s Yang Shu Chun. Our contenders from Turkey and South Korea did not. Was CHN-TUR-KOR-THA; now China, Chinese Taipei, Spain, Morocco
57kg: Another China-Chinese Taipei showdown? The top seeds are Tseng Li-Cheng (island) and Hou Yuzhuo (mainland, world champion). Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba is next, and then Britain’s world runner-up Jade Jones get the fourth spot despite being 10th in the rankings. Fifth seed Ana Zaninovic of Croatia won the world title at a lower weight class. The USA’s Diana Lopez is ranked 36th but is better than that, with a Beijing bronze to her name. Oh no– do we have to think about this one? Was CHN-CRO-MOR-IRI; now China, Britain, Croatia, USA
67kg: Britain’s Sarah Stevenson won bronze at a higher weight class in Beijing, then dropped down here and won the world title last year. And she’s ranked 10th and seeded fourth? OK — don’t think, just project. Egypt’s Seham El Sawalhy surely has a good reason for being ranked first. Then it’s Canada’s Karine Sergerie and South Korea’s Kyung-Seon Hwang, the defending champion. The USA’s Paige McPherson is ranked 19th and could surprise. Was KOR-GBR-THA-CAN; now South Korea, Britain, Egypt, Canada
67+kg: France’s heavyweight world champion Anne-Caroline Graffe is the top seed. Next up: Mexico’s Maria Del Rosario Espinoza, Russia’s Anastasia Baryshnikova and Morocco’s Wiam Dislam. South Korea had two world runner-ups from the heavy classes but sent someone else. Was FRA-ESP-MEX-RUS; now France, Mexico, Morocco, Russia