The preliminaries, quarter-finals and the semi-finals of the 2018 World Taekwondo Grand-Prix Final, as well as the opening ceremony, took place on Thursday at the Zayed Sports Complex in Fujairah on Thursday.
Fujairah Martial Arts Club, FMAC, has organised the World Taekwondo's end-of-season events: The World Taekwondo Grand Prix Final, the World Taekwondo Team Championships and 2018 World Taekwondo Gala Awards are all taking place, back-to-back, in Fujairah from 22nd to 25th November. It will be the first time any of these events have been held in the Middle East. The 2016 events took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, while last year’s events were hosted by Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire.
Among the VIPs in attendance in the evening was H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah. The opening ceremony started with a sound and light show playing over a massive LED screen that showcased both Fujairah, "The city of sea and mountains" and scenes of taekwondo action.
Ahmad Hamdan Al Zayoudi, President UAE Taekwondo Federation, said, ''Fujairah has become the taekwondo city in the Middle East and a destination for the game lovers from across the world.'' After speeches by local dignitaries, World Taekwondo President, Chungwon Choue, took to the floor. "The Grand-Prix Final is one of the most prestigious events on the taekwondo calendar, and it is wonderful to hold them here in Fujairah," Choue said.
"This is the first time they have been held in the Middle East, ever. This is very important as it shows WT’s geographic reach is extending, and taekwondo is truly a universal sport."
''The end of the competition season is always the most exciting part of it, as we run this triad of great events, one after another," Choue said. "And as taekwondo expands its geographic reach even further, it is great to be holding these top-tier events in Fujairah, as the Middle East is an up-and-coming region for our sport."
A show by the famed World Taekwondo Demonstration Team followed, with team members wearing local headgear in a nod to Arabic culture. High-altitude aerial breaks were performed, with team members including local swords and dance elements in the performance.
The taekwondo performance on the mats was flanked by two groups of locals at the sides of the arena. Wearing traditional white gowns, wielding camel switches, swords and rifles, they danced while the taekwondo team spun and flew.
In the sportive portion of the day, 128 invited athletes from 48 countries took to the mats in the first day of the two-day event. The Grand-Prix Final pits the world’s top 16 athletes in eight Olympic weight categories – four males, four females – against one another. Medals are up for grabs in male, female and mixed categories. Eight teams are competing in the men’s category. Iran, Russia and Korea are the top three teams in men’s category. Six teams are competing in the female’s category. China, Korea and Morocco are the top three in women’s. China, Russia and Korea are the top-ranked teams in the mixed-gender division.
With Tokyo 2020 fast approaching, and with valuable ranking points up for grabs, heated action is anticipated on Friday, when the bronze medal matches and finals are contested.
After the two-day Grand-Prix and Gala Awards event, the two-day World Taekwondo Team Championships, featuring male, female and mixed categories, kicked off for their two-day run, over 24th and 25th November, at the Zayed Sports Complex On 21st November, Choue presented the Fujairah Crown Prince with an 8th Dan taekwondo black belt certificate on a ceremonial plaque at the Rumailah Palace in Fujairah, for his efforts to support the sports.