ROME, Italy (Jun 5, 2022) -The Roma 2022 World Taekwondo Grand Prix drew to a close today with some of the best matches of the competition as Italy and Spain won the last remaining gold medals.
The Italian crowd has hoped for a gold medal all competition and their 2019 World Champion, Simone Alessio did not disappoint as he secured the top honours in the men’s -80kg. In the women’s -49kg it was Spain’s teenage Olympic silver medallist Adriana Cerezo Iglesias who won her country’s first gold of the competition.
The silver medals on the final day were won by Egypt and Croatia, while Korea and Mexico took bronze in the women’s -49kg and Korea and Uzbekistan won bronze in the men’s -80kg.
Speaking after the competition, World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue said:
“Tonight was a fitting way to end what has been a great World Taekwondo Grand Prix. We knew we had missed this competition, but seeing these athletes compete over the last three days has made us realise how much we missed it. The quality of the competition has been incredible. The athletes have entertained and inspired us. And the crowd has been brilliant. This really has been the return of Taekwondo and we cannot wait for the rest of the season.”
Spain’s Cerezo Iglesias and Croatia’s Bruna Duvancic faced each other in the final of the women’s -49kg. Neither fighter had competed at a World Taekwondo Grand Prix before and so were guaranteed their first ever medal.
Cerezo Iglesias came out on the front foot and after a series of front kick jabs, landed one to go 2-0 up. Another kick to the body shortly after extended her lead to 4-0. Two gam-jeoms for being forced out of the octagon brought Duvancic to within touching distance but another kick to the body by Cerezo Iglesias won her the round 6-2. The second round was very tight as both fighters defended well and struggled to land with sufficient accuracy. Cerezo Iglesias managed to break the dead lock with a back kick to the body and take a 2-0 lead. With 10 seconds left Duvancic managed a body kick of her own to leave the round tied at 2-2. But it was not enough, and Cerezo Iglesias won the round and the gold medal. The Spaniard flipped across the mat in joy much to the delight of the crowd.
Cerezo Iglesias had faced Korea’s two-time World Champion Jaeyoung Sim in the first of the semi-finals. Cerezo Iglesias won the first round 5-2. In the second round Kim took the lead with a punch to the body but Cerezo Iglesias fought back to 7-1 win and booked her place in the final.
Duvancic faced Mexico’s Daniela Paola Souza in the second semi-final. Well executed head kicks from Duvancic ultimately proved too much to catch and she won the round 8-3. An exciting second round saw both fighters land spectacular head kicks to the delight of the crowd. Despite Souza having held an early lead, Duvancic fought back to win 7-6.
Italy’s Simone Alessio entered the arena to deafening noise as he prepared to fight Egypt’s two-time Olympic bronze medallist, Seif Eissa. The Italian took an early one point lead courtesy of a gam-jeom but gave one away himself to tie scores at 1-1. An over-the-top head kick gave Alessio a 4-1 lead. Eissa mindful of getting too close and leaving himself open to another head kick tried to keep the distance but could not land his kicks and the round ended 4-1 to the Italian.
Spurred on by the home crowd, Alessio opened the scoring in the second round with another of his trademark head kicks. Two gam-jeoms from the Italian took the score to 3-3. With under 10 seconds to go and with both fighters attempting to win the round, Eissa was judged to have pushed Alessio to the ground and so received a gam-jeom meaning Alessio won the round and the match. The Italian crowd erupted and overcome with emotion, Alessio dropped to his knees and was embraced by his coach.
Alessio was paired against Korea’s Woo Hyeok Park in the first of the semi-finals which turned out to be one of the most exciting matches of the Grand Prix. From start to finish the crowd were on their feet as both fighters landed a number of head kicks. The first round finished 10-10 but Alessio won courtesy of the nature of his points. The second round saw Park lead for large portions but a head kick from Alessio with 13 seconds remaining was enough to secure the match.
The second semi-final saw Eissa face Uzbekistan’s Shukhrat Salaev. Salaev drew first blood winning the first round 6-3. In the second round it was Eissa’s turn to exert his dominance as he fought to a relatively comfortable 9-4 win. The first two rounds took their toll and the third round was played out at a less frantic pace. It was 0-0 until the last second when Salaev thought he had won with a head kick only for it to be ruled to have been executed illegally giving Eissa the win courtesy of a gam-jeom.