Organizers hope World Martial Arts Masterships on par with Olympics
The World Martial Arts Masterships in South Korea has drawn athletes from more than 100 countries and regions. For some of the participants, this mega event will be a gateway to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
There are 20 combat sports, including the Chinese discipline of Wushu in which China’s Liu Bin, who is traveling to an overseas tournament for the first time, won the gold medal. But he noted that fighting sports are the biggest winner at this martial arts mega event.
"We need to hold more martial arts competitions, we need to promote them to all citizens around the world," said Liu. "We need to let children practice martial arts, and in this way, we can further develop martial arts."
Organizers said that is the aim of this competition, which has brought together thousands of professional and amateur athletes from more than 100 countries to compete in 20 disciplines.
"The last event was mostly amateurs, but this edition has higher level athletes, who are already the best competitors in the world," said Ann Chang-bum, South Korea’s Taekwondo coach.
For most of the disciplines, winning at the Masterships means a gold medal, but for some of the Taekwondo events, it means selection for an even bigger event, as the gold medalists in a new Taekwondo discipline called Kyorugi will head to the Tokyo Olympics.
“The selected athletes will hold a showcase at next year’s Tokyo Summer Olympics, in the process to qualify for becoming an official event," said An.
Iran will be heading to Tokyo, but the losing Korean team still managed to clinch gold in the freestyle Poomsae.
The winner of mixed freestyle Poomsae Kim Jin-man said, “We got a good result from this competition, and I can hold up the gold medal with pleasure.”
The Organizing Committee hopes the event can eventually be on par with the Olympic Games. In the meantime, they’ve ensured South Korea is now home to the world’s biggest and most spectacular martial arts event, with no serious competition.