BAKU, Azerbaijan (Jun 4, 2023) - The historic Baku 2023 World Taekwondo Championships concluded this evening in style with gold medals going to Iran’s Nahid Kiyanichandeh in the women’s -53kg and Côte d'Ivoire’s Cheick Sallah Cisse in the men’s +87kg.
In the women’s -53kg, Kiyanichandeh came into Baku having competed at three World Championships before but had never won a medal. The Iranian put this right not just winning her first medal but her first gold with a hugely impressive and dominant performance in the final. Silver went to China’s 2023 Grand Slam winner and silver medallist from the Guadalajara 2022 World Taekwondo Championships, Ju Zuo. Bronze medals were won by Egypt’s Shahd Samy Elhosseiny and Individual Neutral Athlete (AIN) Tatiana Minina.
In the men’s +87kg, Rio 2016 gold medallist Cisse was fighting in the +87kg at a World Championships for the first time having previous competed at -87kg and -80kg. The step up in weight seemed to work for him as he looked unstoppable throughout the day to be crowned World Champion. Defending World Champion Carlos Sansores from Mexico won silver and the bronze medals went to Türkiye’s Emre Kutalmis Atesli and Croatia’s Pasko Bozic.
In the women’s -53kg final it was an Asian match up with Kiyanichandeh versus Zuo. Kiyanichandeh was the first to score landing two front leg kicks to the body for a 4-0 lead. Another double body shot extended Kiyanichandeh’s lead. A fake punch into a back leg turning kick gave Kiyanichandeh a commanding 10-0 lead. Kiyanichandeh’s incredible accuracy with the front leg saw her score with almost every kick and she won 14-0. Two seconds into the second round Kiyanichandeh’s front leg was landing again as she took a 2-0 lead. With a minute gone Zuo was still looking for a way through. A head shot followed by a kick to the body gave the Iranian a 9-0 lead. A fantastic spinning kick to the head from Zuo got her off the mark but Kiyanichandeh’s lead was insurmountable and she won 11-7 to secure the world title.
In the first semi-final, Zuo was paired against Samy Elhosseiny. Zuo won the first round with a commanding 9-2 performance. A similar second round went to Zuo with a score of 8-2. The second semi-final saw Kiyanichandeh against Minina. A tight opening round went the way of the Iranian 5-4. Minina came out very aggressively in the second round and a flurry of head kicks from both fighters gave the AIN a 14-6 win. In the decisive round there was little to choose between them with the fighters taking it in turns to lead. The scores were even with a few seconds to go but two kicks from Kiyanichandeh gave her a 10-6 win.
In the men’s +87kg final, it was the number three ranked Cisse against number one ranked Sansores. Cisse started with his trademark fast pace securing an early 2-0 lead. After a quick start the speed slowed as both fighters settled into a rhythm. Sansores hunted for points pressuring Cisse out of the ring to receive a Gam-jeom. A 2-1 win went to Cisse. In the second round Cisse repeated his tactics from the first round putting two points on the board early with a back leg to the body. Cisse was unlucky not to score with another back leg. Sansores again forced Gam-jeom off the mat but again it was too late to make the difference and Cisse won 2-1 to take gold.
Sansores had met Atesli in the first of the semi-finals. Neither fighter wanted to give up any space in the first round and it was ultimately decided by a Gam-jeom in Sansores’ favour. In the second round, a back leg kick in the clinch gave Sansores a 2-0 lead which he protected throughout the round. Cisse faced Bozic in the second semi. Fighting against a taller and heavier opponent, Cisse looked to set a quick tempo and won the round 8-6. In the second round the Ivorian started quickly once again to take an early lead which he protected to win 5-1.