Double delight for France as 16 qualify for Tokyo 2020 at European taekwondo qualifier


Two fighters in each weight category have guaranteed their seats on the plane to Tokyo, as the 2021 European Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament draws to an end in Sofia, Bulgaria.

A total of 16 athletes from 15 different nations have secured their qualification to Tokyo 2020 at the European Taekwondo Olympic Qualification Tournament in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia. With athletes only needing to win the semi-finals in their respective weight class to book one of two Olympic berths available for each category, there were no finals competed. Find out everything you need to know about the event below.

Althea Laurin doubles down for France as eight athletes qualify on day two

France secured their second Olympic berth in as many days as 19-year-old Althea Laurin won her all-important +67kg semi-final against Lorena Brandl, restricting the German athlete to a single point in a 15-1 victory. It followed a similarly dominant 10-0 quarter-final victory against Italy's Maristella Smiraglia. Laurin joins yesterday's French qualifier Magda Wiet-Henin (-67kg) on the plane to Tokyo this summer.

The Netherlands' Reshmie Oogink, a 2017 World Championships middleweight bronze medallist, also qualified in the +67 kg category, coming from behind to take an 8-5 victory against Austria's Marlene Jahl.

In the men's +80 kg category, Ivan Šapina of Croatia won a thrilling bout 14-13 against Turkey's Emre Kutalmış Ateşli, scoring in the final second of the semi-final match having trailed until that point. The other athlete to qualify in that category was North Macedonia's Dejan Georgievski who triumphed 13-6 against Azerbaijan's Radik Isayev.

The first bout of the men's −68 kg semi-finals between Turkey's Hakan Reçber and Bulgaria's Vladimir Dalakliev produced a razor-tight affair that went right to the wire, with Reçber winning the match 10-9 in the final second following a video review. In the second semi-final, Israel had the chance to become only the second team to qualify two athletes to the Games in Sofia, but Nimrod Krivishkiy could not deliver, losing 29-7 to Bosnia and Herzegovina's Nedzad Husic in a one-sided match.

The penultimate bout of the qualifier saw the Refugee Olympic Team's Kimia Alizadeh, a Rio 2016 bronze medallist, lose 3-1 to 2018 YOG bronze medallist Fani Tzeli in the women's -57kg. The bout was followed by a dominant display from Poland's Patrycja Adamkiewicz, who wrapped up proceedings in Sofia with a 32-0 -57kg victory over Finland's Suvi Mikkonen.

Simone Alessio and Adriana Cerezo among day one's big winners

Italy's Simone Alessio was one of the biggest names to book his passage to Tokyo 2020 on the first day of action when he qualified for the final of the -80kg competition (7 May). The 21-year-old world champion from Calabria, Italy, came through the first round with a narrow 10-9 victory over Macedonia's Filip Dodevski, before dispatching of Belgium's Nicolas Corten 3-0 in the golden round after the initial three rounds saw the two tied at 3-3. The semi-final was a one-sided affair, as Alessio defeated Germany's Tahir Guelec 21-2. It saw him book his Tokyo 2020 berth alongside Norway's Richard Ordermann in the -80kg category.

Spain's teenage sensation Adriana Cerezo, added to her debut win at last month's 2021 European Championships in Sofia by qualifying for Tokyo 2020 at just 17 years old. The Madrid-born athlete dominated her first-round bout with a 49-4 victory over Switzerland's Andrea Schnell, before conceding only a single point in an 18-1 second-round win over Cypriot Kyriaki Kouttouki. She sealed her qualification with a 16-3 victory over Romania's Liana Musteață.

Cerezo will be joined in the -49kg category in Tokyo by Israel's Avishag Semberg, the 2020 European champion, who beat Austria's Christina Schönegger 18-6 in round one, before making light work of Russian Olympic Committee's European Championship bronze medallist Elizaveta Ryadninskaya (21-7) and seeing off the challenge of Germany's Ela Aydin (24-2) in the semi-finals.

The other athletes to qualify for this summer's Olympics on day one were Portugal's Rui Bragança and Hungary's Omar Salim in the men's -58kg, and France's Magda Wiet-Henin and Azerbaijan's Farida Azizova in the women's -67kg event.

The Tokyo 2020 taekwondo competition will take place between 24 and 27 July 2021 at Makuhari Messe Hall A.