MANCHESTER, UK (Oct 22, 2022) - The day after his win in the men’s -58 kg category, where he defeated both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Champion and the Tokyo 2020 silver medallist in his World Taekwondo Grand Prix debut, Korea’s Tae-Joon Park shared insights into his performance and his journey to the world stage.
“It’s incredible, because there were a lot of Olympians here,” said Park. “I am delighted.”
Although he had previously competed at the Asian Taekwondo Championships, Park was quick to note the change in setting that athletes experience at World Taekwondo Grand Prix level. “The night before my fight, I was watching the Para Taekwondo semi-finals and finals with the lights and loud music, and I imagined myself competing in the final the next day,” he explained. “I have learned that the style of competition is quite different between domestic level and international level, and now I will concentrate on the international level.”
Still a high school student, Park secured a wild card entry by winning the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Challenge held in June, at Muju Taekwondowon. Prior to winning there, Park had hoped to rise to the top of the sport but had expected it would take years rather than weeks. “Until the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Challenge, I was thinking of LA 28. But now, it’s Paris 2024!”
As Park confirmed, the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Challenge has enabled athletes to accelerate their progress through the ranks. “In my category, there are three athletes of very high standard in Korea, and I was not selected to compete in this year’s World Championships. But by winning the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Challenge, and now a World Taekwondo Grand Prix event, I hope I can earn the chance to represent my country next year at World Championships and the year after at the Olympic Games. I am very grateful for this opportunity.”
While Olympic success now appears to be a very realistic prospect for the teenager, Park does not expect much to change on his return to Korea. “I will go back to school the day after we arrive home, although I may have a small celebration for just one evening with some friends.”
As well as setting his sights on sporting glory, Park is focused on academic success too. “In a couple of weeks’ time, I will have an entrance interview for Kyunghee university, where I hope to study economics. I would like to win an Olympic gold medal and live without worries!”