Hungarian Taekwondo is enjoying a period of unprecedented success with a crop of young fighters ushering in a new era for the sport.
17-year-old Luana Marton is one such exciting talent who looks set to write a new chapter for her country.
At the Baku 2023 World Taekwondo Champions, Luana became the first female Hungarian ever to win a world title in Taekwondo. Her victory came less than a year after Omar Salim won gold at the World Taekwondo Championships in Guadalajara – the first Hungarian world title since his father Gergely won gold in the same weight category, at the same age, 21 years prior.
“I am very happy because I am the first girl to win the World Championships for Hungary and I am very happy to have done it,” Luana says. She is sat next to her twin sister, Viviana, who will compete in Baku on Saturday in the women’s -62kg and hopes to make it two World Championships golds for the Marton family.
“It is a lot of motivation because she [Luana] won the gold medal,” Viviana says. “I think I can do it also because she’s my sister. So I will try to do my best and see if it is possible to win.”
Luana and Viviana train together at their Taekwondo club, Hankuk, in Madrid and are coached by recently retired Finnish Olympic Taekwondo athlete Suvi Mikkonen. There is plenty of Olympic experience at the club as Spain’s Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Adriana Cerezo Iglesias is also a member.
“When Salim won the gold medal in Guadalajara, I was very happy for him as he’s a very good friend to me and I’m very motivated to do the same, and to follow the same path,” Luana says. “I had the same feeling when my training partner Adriana won the silver medal in Tokyo.”
Her friendships with these fighters and the success they have had, has opened the door to Luana and made her realise that she can do the same. Perhaps that is why she seemed completely at home in Baku at her first senior World Championships.
“I came in relaxed, I came here with the idea of doing my best, my mind was relaxed and I didn’t put pressure on myself, I showed that I can do it. she says. My goal was a gold medal of course but I wasn’t thinking all the time that I need to win the gold medal, I was thinking I need to fight very good and very hard and to take it step by step."
In the final, Luana met Chinese Taipei’s Olympic bronze medallist from Tokyo 2020, Chia‐Ling Lo who she had beaten months before in the Belgium Open but she didn’t let that distract her.
“I didn’t think before the match that I am better than her as I didn’t know what will happen during the fight, my mentality was the same as in every fight during the day, however I did feel confident that I could win. Sometimes it’s hard when they are taller but I adapted my techniques and did different movements to block.”
Next up for Luana is the Senegal Open before the Grand Prix Challenge and European Games and her ultimate goal: qualifying for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Away from Taekwondo she is just a normal teenager. She fits her training in around school and enjoys time with her family and friends.
On the mat though she will be hoping she, her sister and Salim can prove to be a golden generation for Hungary.