KUALA LUMPUR: It has been some time, but Malaysia may finally be ready to start bringing home the medals from international taekwondo meets again.
National taekwondo head coach Moi Chee Keong believes that Malaysia are ready to do so, starting with the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar next month.
Chee Keong has set a target of one gold, one silver and three bronzes for his team as he believes his young fighters can spring a surprise in Naypyitaw.
At the last SEA Games in Palembang, Malaysia failed to deliver even one gold – a first for the Malaysian taekwondo team.
Since taekwondo was accepted into the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Malaysia have never failed to send at least one representative for the sport. However, the 2012 London Olympics were a big disappointment as Ryan Chong Wy Lunn came close but failed to qualify.
“We are targeting to send our exponents to next year’s Asian Games and hopefully they will produce results. We will also be looking towards sending two exponents to the 2016 Olympics in Rio,” said Chee Keong.
With many of the senior exponents, like former 2005 Manila SEA Games gold medallist Rusfredey Tokan Petrus retiring last year, Chee Keong has been forced to search for new faces and leaders to take over.
Now, he believes they are ready to be a force to be reckoned with once again.
“We have a lot of new faces. Captain Ryan Chong, being the oldest and most experienced in the group, now has the responsibilty of leading this young team. Having been put together only in March, this new team was assembled through scoring points in the national championships,” said Chee Keong, who has coached the national team for seven years.
This fresh-faced national team recently made a trip to South Korea for a training stint which proved to be an eye-opener.
“The new recruits saw for themselves the level that is required of them. Being the founder of this martial art, South Korea is the best place to provide exposure for our national fighters. I believe the foundation of Malaysia’s taekwondo is growing stronger and we will soon be able to compete internationally once again,” said Chee Keong.
The 25-year-old Ryan is the focal point for taekwondo to bring home a gold medal. His only SEA Games medal was the silver at the 2007 Korat SEA Games.
However, Ryan revealed that despite the high expectations, his personal aim is to enter the final and just do his best. Being the captain, he certainly will have to lead by example.
“I will have to try and manage their expectations going into the SEA Games. I will get behind my team-mates and explain to them that the environment is certainly different compared to other competitions. They will have to adapt as much as possible and find their feet to deliver the goods in Myanmar,” said Ryan.
Host Indonesia clinched one gold medal in the freestyle pair division on the first day of the 8th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Bali, Indonesia on 31 October, 2013.
A total of 14 countries took home at least one medal on the first day of the four-day championships.
Korea topped others in the medal tally with two golds and three silvers, followed by Iran and Vietnam with one gold, one silver and one bronze each. The United States and Spain followed with one gold and one bronze each.
Turkey and Canada clinched one bronze medal each. Thailand grabbed three silvers, while China and Chinese Taipei two bronzes each. Italy, France and Russia took home one bronze medal each.
A total of 439 athletes from 49 countries are competing for the 25 gold medals up for grabs at the four-day Bali World Poomsae Championships. Fifty poomsae international referees officiate at the championships.
Before the final round of the freestyle pair division, there was an opening ceremony of the 8th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, which took place at the Bali International Convention Center of the Westin Nusa Dua Hotel Resort.
Among the attendees were WTF President Chungwon Choue; Mr. I Made Mangku Pastika, governor of Bali; and Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, president of the Indonesian Taekwondo Association.
In his welcoming address, WTF President Choue said, "I wish to congratulate Lt. Gan. Marciano Norman and the Organizing Committee on their hard work to bring everyone together for this great event, the first-ever WTF-promloted championships in Indonesia."
"This week of competition will certainly display some of the best taekwondo poomsae in the world. The level of poomsae competition has raised so much over the years and I am confident that it will continue to climb. Fromteenage to grandfather, our sport is truly a sport for all," he said.
Dr. Choue continued to say, "We have now competition in freestyle poomsae, a new addition which started last year in Tunja, Colombia. This dynamic category for competition will only grow and develop further, drawing great attention from both the public and international media."
The opening ceremony, which lasted some two hours, featured a traditional Indonesian dancing and a demonstration by a trio of Korean taekwon-aerobic dancers.
A 30-minute taekwondo performance by the WTF Demonstration Team attracted much applause from the spectators.
Indonesia Wins 1 Gold in Freestyle Pair on 1st Day of World Poomsae Championships in Bali
Britain's Lutalo Muhammad continued his build-up to the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester in December with victory at the Serbian Open.
Olympic bronze medallist Muhammad, 22, beat Dionys Kronreif of Germany in the -87kg final, with fellow Brit Jordan Gayle victorious in the -68kg class.
Bianca Walkden (-73kg), Andrew Deer (-80kg), Ben Haines (-74kg) and Dom Brookes (-58kg) won silver medals.
And London Olympian Martin Stamper won bronze in the -68kg division.
Olympic champion Jade Jones missed the event as she continued her rehabilitation following a back injury.
The Serbia Open is likely to be the final competition for many British fighters before the inaugural Manchester Grand Prix on 13-15 December.
It also offered athletes the chance to banish memories of a disappointing 2013 World Championships where the team failed to win a medal.
Muhammad was eliminated at the quarter-final stage at the Mexico Worlds earlier this year, but returned to winning ways with victory at the national championships in September before success in Serbia.
"I'm very happy with today's result and it's always good to be back in the ring and performing well," he told BBC Sport.
"It's been a really good weekend for the GB team - coming to Serbia and taking gold is great preparation for the Grand Prix back home in Manchester."
The fighter will return to the -80kg Olympic division for the year-ending Grand Prix, where he could face fellow Briton Aaron Cook - the man he was controversially selected ahead of for London 2012.
"I know that's going to be a tough competition but as ever I'll be going for the win," he said.
Walkden, 22, is another returning to form after failing to finish on the podium in Mexico and she did not concede a point en-route to the Serbian Open final.
However, she was denied gold when +67kg Olympic champion Milica Mandic of Croatia struck first in sudden death.
Unseeded Gayle, 22, defeated fellow Briton Stamper in the -68kg semi-finals.
Gayle strengthened his case for a wildcard invite to Manchester with a 6-2 win against Bulgarian third seed Vladimir Dalakliev in the final.
The Manchester event, which is expected to host all London Olympic and 2013 world champions, will form the first stage of qualification for the 2016 Rio Games.
Lutalo Muhammad & Jordan Gayle win taekwondo gold in Serbia
Semifinal: U.S. Team members T.J. Curry, James Howe, Steven Lin, Nir Moriah and Phillip Yun took another step closer to gold after defeating host country Russia, 18-16, in the semifinal at the 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games in St. Petersburg.
The Americans will face Iran in the Gold Medal Round today at 8:30 p.m. local time/12:30 p.m. EDT.
Spain, who lost to Iran, 6-5, in the semifinal, will take on Russia at 7:30 p.m. local time/11:30 a.m. EDT for bronze.
Day 2 Update: The U.S. Team knocked off Venezuela, 15-13, in the final Round Robin matchup of the 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, which improved the Americans' record to 2-1-0 and earned a berth in the semifinals against Russia.
Final Group B standings: Iran, 3-0-0, 9 points United States, 2-1-0, 6 points Korea, 1-2-0, 3 points Venezuela, 0-3-0, 0 points
Final Group A standings: Russia, 2-0-1, 7 points Spain, 1-0-2, 5 points Uzbekistan, 1-1-1, 4 points Dominican Republic, 0-3-0, 0 points
The U.S. Team— made up of Senior athletes T.J. Curry, James Howe, Steven Lin, Nir Moriah and Phillip Yun— split its first two matches Oct. 23 at the 2013 SportAccord World Combat Games in St. Petersburg, Russia, after falling to Iran, 26-5, and defeating Korea, 24-20. The Americans, who are tied for second with Korea in Group B, take on Venezuela Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. local time/7 a.m. EDT in the final Round Robin matchup. The semifinals and finals will also be held Oct. 24.
The tag-team competition involves eight teams broken into two pools of four. Each pool competes in a Round Robin format, with the top two in each pool competing in the semifinal. The match format consists of two five-minute rounds. A match win earns three points, a draw is one and a loss is zero, which is calculated to determine who advances to the semifinals.
Day 1 Group B standings: Iran, 2-0-0, 6 points United States, 1-1-0, 3 points Korea, 1-1-0, 3 points Venezuela, 0-2-0, 0 points
Day 1 Group A standings: Russia, 2-0-0, 6 points Spain, 1-0-1, 4 points Uzbekistan, 0-1-1, 1 point Dominican Republic, 0-2-0, 0 points
Oct. 24 Matchups Pool A: Uzbekistan vs. Dominican Republic; Russia vs. Spain Pool B: United States vs. Venezuela; Korea vs. Iran
The U.S. team is without Steven Lopez, who dropped out of the competition earlier in the week. The five U.S. athletes—Curry, Howe, Lin, Moriah and Yun— weighed in on Oct. 22 at 357.85 kg, 2.15 kg less than the maximum 360 for a five-man team.