Manchester 2023 World Para Taekwondo GP Final: Iran clinch four Gold, home glory for Munro


The Manchester 2023 World Para Taekwondo Grand Prix Final was about dominance, resilience and setting new goals in the final Grand Prix of the year.


There were upsets too with several fighters tumbling to the packed schedule and fatigue as some others grabbed the chance of ending the year on a high note.


The Grand Prix Final was graced by World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue and International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, who went on to praise the quality and competitiveness of the event with the players’ skills and technique were a treat to watch.


Iran dominated the final event of the season clinching four gold medals led by their Asian Para Games champion Mahdi Pourrahnama who won his first Grand Prix Finals gold in Manchester.


Pourahnama defeated Uzbekistan’s Alikulov Javokhir (UZB) 17-10 to win the K44 Men – 70kg final, also his first Grand Prix title of the season.


“This victory was very important for me as I want to qualify for the Paralympics. I was away from competition for about a year and returned only at the European Championships in Montargis – it was not very good, managed a bronze there. Then I followed up with three gold medals including one at the Asian Para Games, which was a crucial one as the it gave me 100 ranking points,” said the Iranian star who also had a gold medal at the President’s Cup in Jordan.


“And finally, I am very happy to take my first gold at the Grand Prix Finals,” added a relieved Pourahnama.




First Birthday gift

Pourrahnama was joined on the top of the podium Maryam Abdollahpour, who clinched her second Grand Prix final title and first gold medal at the Manchester 2023 GP Finals.


 “Today I got my second I hope I can repeat my gold medal at the Paralympics. This medal is my first present for my birthday. This medal is also for the women Para-Taekwondo players of Iran,” said Abdollahpour who beat Peru's Paralympic champion Angelica Espinoza Leonor with a convincing 15-5 scoreline in K44 Women -47kg.


Mexican world no. 1 Claudia Romero, who settled for the bronze after defeating her close rival Isakova Ziyodakhon from Uzbekistan, was later named the Best Female Player of the Year at the World Taekwondo Gala Awards. 


Later Alireza Bakht (K44 Men -80kg) and Hamed Haghshenas (K44 men +80kg) followed the suit adding two more gold to Iran’s medal tally. While Bakht claimed his second Grand Prix Finals title shocking Korea's Jeonghun Joo 29-18 in the K44 men -80kg.


Haghshenas put up a powerful show thrashing world no. 1 Ivan Mikulic in a one-sided final with he scores reading 17-2.



Confident Yasur

Israel’s Asaf Yasur (K44 Men -58kg) continued his winning momentum adding one more Grand Prix gold to a successful year where he has a world championships title as well.


Yasur defeated France’s Bopha Kong by a convincing margin 41-18 in the final, after overcoming a tough challenge from Chinese Taipei's Xiang wen Xiao in the semi-finals 31-27.


“Sometimes the fight doesn’t go as we expect, so I just keep going, just keep scoring, listen to my coach, and never quit. I knew I was going to win it. I waited for the right opportunity to attack,” said the 23-year-old Yasur.


In K44 Men -63kg, Mongolia’s Bolor-erdene Ganbat failed to maintain his Asian Para Games golden show settling for a silver medal in Manchester. Ganbat went down to Turkiye’s Mahmut Bozteke 24-12.


Italy’s Antonino Bossolo, who later went on to take the Best Para Player Award, settled for the bronze medal.




Home glory for Munro

Home player Beth Munro claimed the only gold for the hosts on the day. The Liverpool based fighter continued her amazing run this year – having made all the finals – defeating Elena Savinskaya, the only Individual Neutral Athlete(AIN) in the event.


“I am very excited in Manchester at the GP Finals. It was the last competition of the year and a very important one, with 100 points towards Paris 2024. It was a fantastic day with my on my home soil with my family here supporting me, getting me through. Coming away with gold medal here and hopefully next year in Paris with lot of training and little bit more learning I will get the gold in Paris as well,” said Munro, adding that the year 2023 had been great for her considering that she has reached the final of all the events she had competed.


Munro ended the season with her eighth gold medal and first in Grand Prix finals.


Stumpf takes gold for Brazil



Likewise, Maria eduarda Machado Stumpf claimed the only gold medal for Brazil in K44 Women -52kg after favourites Silvana Mayara Cardoso (K44 Women -57kg) and Ana Carolina Silva de Moura (K44 Women -65kg) managed the bronze medals in their respective categories.


Machado Stumpf overcame Egypt’s emerging star Salma Ali, who went on to win the first Grand Prix gold for the nation in Veracruz, 7-4 in the K44 Women -52kg final.


“I am very happy and proud to win the gold in the last event of the season. This gold is a special one as this is for my country and for my team. My next goal is winning a place at the Paralympic Games,” said Stumpf who overcame Qian Shao who had shocked top ranked Meryem Betul Cavdar from Turkiye in the quarter-finals.


However, Munro’s compatriot Amy Truesdale, also a Paralympic medallist, had to settle for the silver in K44 women +65kg. Truesdale went down to Paralympic champion Guljonoy Naimova of Uzbekistan who rallied from two points down to win the fight 11-10.



China’s Li Yujie, the Asian Para Games bronze medallist, continued her good run this year to win the K44 Women – 57kg.


Yujie pulled off a surprise win over Brazil’s Paralympic medallist and world no. 1 Silvana Mayara Cardoso Fernandes in the semi-finals 24-21 before she beat Turkiye’s second ranked Gamze Gurdal 17-8 in the final. “I had lost to her (Silvana) in the quarter-finals at World Championships by a close margin so I was motivated to change the result. I am very happy to end the year on a high,” said a motivated Yujie looking ahead to the new season.