Taekwondo at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 saw several shock upsets and warm-hearted moments.
Teenagers Anastasija Zolotic of the USA and Uzbekistan’s Ulugbek Rashitov claimed surprise gold medals after upset wins in the finals at the Makuhari Messe Hall A in Chiba.
Milica Mandic won her second Olympic gold, nine years after glory at London 2012.
Refugee athlete Kimia Alizadeh nearly became the first ever medallist from the Refugee Olympic Team.
Below, we take a look back at the most memorable moments, a recap of the new stars from the 21 nations that won a taekwondo medal, and who to look out for at the Paris 2024 Games.
Top 5 taekwondo moments at Tokyo 2020
1. Anastasija Zolotic, the youngest taekwondo Olympic champ in Tokyo
Seven of the eight gold medallists in Taekwondo won their first-ever Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games.
Among the newly minted champions was Anastasija Zolotic.
The 18-year-old became the first American woman to clinch taekwondo gold and the first American since Steven Lopez’s win at Athens 2004.
The 2018 Youth Olympic Games silver medallist, who used to wrestle with her dad when she was young, defeated a two-time world silver medallist Tatiana Minina of the ROC to win the women's 57 kg final.
2. Ulugbek Rashitov, the Uzbek star at Tokyo 2020
The gold medal clash pitting Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan and Bradly Sinden of Great Britain was a pretty close contest decided in the last eight seconds.
Rashitov, still only 19, was the star of the 68kg class after upsetting top seed LEE Daehoon in the round of 16.
The final match could have gone either way.
Sinden, the number two seed, seemed to have nailed the gold medal for Team GB deep into the third round. But Rashitov’s spinning back kick made all the difference as he won his country’s first-ever medal in taekwondo at the Olympics.
A special victory for Rashitov who dedicated his gold to his late coach KIM Jin-young who died six weeks before the Tokyo Games.
3. Kimia Alizadeh, refugee team’s closest medal contender
The Tokyo Olympic Games was a fairy-tale run for Kimia Alizadeh.
In the last 16, she pulled off a stunning upset win over two-time Olympic champion Jade Jones, eventually becoming the first athlete from the Refugee Olympic Team to reach the medal stage at the Olympics.
Alizadeh, who took bronze for Iran at Rio 2016 before fleeing her home nation and taking refuge in Germany in 2020, had defeated former compatriot Nahid Kiyani Chandeh in her opening bout.
She then overcame ZHOU Lijun of China in the quarterfinals but just missed out on a medal after losing to Tatiana Minina in the semis of their 57kg bout. Minina of the ROC went on to win the silver.
4. Milica Mandic reclaims Olympic gold
Serbian star Milica Mandic was the only previous gold medallist who managed to reclaim her title in taekwondo.
Mandic needed a last-minute rally to overcome LEE Dabin of Republic of Korea for her second Olympic title.
The Serbian won gold at London 2012 but fell in the quarterfinals at Rio 2016.
She is the first Serbian athlete with multiple Olympic gold medals.
5. Mixed Team showcase
Besides the Refugee Olympic Team that in addition to Alizadeh had two of its athletes, Dina Pouryounes and Abdullah Sediqi, making their Olympic debut, a new format was also showcased for the first time at the Games.
Five teams from China, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Japan and the ROC took part in the non-medal event that preceded the medal contests.
The teams comprising two male and two female athletes duelled over two-four-minute rounds.
The first round was a traditional round featuring male vs male or female vs female, while the second was a high-speed tag-team format.
Taekwondo fans first got a taste of the Mixed Team Competition at the 2016 World Taekwondo Team Championships.
One last look
Seven of the eight winners stood on the Olympic podium for the first time in Tokyo.
Those seven gold medals were all won by different countries, and four by nations that had never won Olympic titles in taekwondo.
Panipak Wongpattanakit, the winner of the women’s 49kg, was the first Thai athlete to medal at Tokyo 2020.
Maksim Khramtcov of ROC, who was still mourning his mother who died just before Tokyo, put on a brave face to win the ROC's first gold in the men’s 80kg class.
Croatia's Matea Jelic and the Uzbek Rashitov achieved their country’s best results in taekwondo at the Olympics.
Israel and North Macedonia also won historic medals - bronze and silver - respectively.
The new generation of champions should shine bright in Paris. Seven of the winners were aged below 25 and were all part of the youthful wave that dominated taekwondo’s medal lists in Tokyo.
We expect taekwondo in Paris to give the platform for nations to make history, as it has done in the past for athletes from Afghanistan, Gabon, Jordan, Niger and Vietnam.
Cote d’Ivoire and Jordan previously won their first Olympic gold medals in taekwondo.
And the magnificent Grand Palais located in the heart of Paris on the famous Avenue des Champ-Elysees, awaits to host the taekwondo Olympians.
When and where to watch taekwondo replays on Olympics.com
The answer is: olympics.com/tokyo2020-replays
When do the taekwondo athletes compete next?
With the World Taekwondo Championships that was scheduled for December in Wuxi, China postponed you can follow all your favourite taekwondo athletes from Tokyo 2020 at the World Grand Prix Finals in December. The dates and venue will be confirmed later.
Full medals list in taekwondo at Tokyo 2020
Gold - Vito Dell'Aquila (ITA)
Silver - Mohamed Khalil Jendoubi (TUN)
Bronze- Mikhail Artamonov (ROC)
Bronze - JANG Jun (KOR)
Gold - Ulugbek Rashitov (UZB)
Silver - Bradly Sinden (GBR)
Bronze- Hakan Reçber (TUR)
Bronze- ZHAO Shuai (CHN)
Gold - Maksim Khramtsov (ROC)
Silver - Saleh Al-Sharabaty (JOR)
Bronze -Toni Kanaet (CRO)
Bronze - Seif Eissa (EGY)
Gold – Vladislav Larin (ROC)
Silver - Dejan Georgievski (MKD)
Bronze - IN Kyo-don (KOR)
Bronze - Rafael Alba (CUB)
Gold - Panipak Wongpattanakit (THA)
Silver - Adriana Cerezo (ESP)
Bronze - Avishag Semberg (ISR)
Bronze - Tijana Bogdanović (SRB)
Gold - Anastasija Zolotic (USA)
Silver - Tatiana Minina (ROC)
Bronze - LO Chia-ling (TPE)
Bronze - Hatice Kübra İlgün (TUR)
Gold - Matea Jelić (CRO)
Silver - Lauren Williams (GBR)
Bronze - Ruth Gbagbi (CIV)
Bronze - Hedaya Wahba (EGY)
Gold - Milica Mandić (SRB)
Silver - LEE Da-bin (KOR)
Bronze - Althéa Laurin (FRA)
Bronze - Bianca Walkden (GBR)