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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 18:18 GMT
Taekwondo kicks up a storm
Lee Sun-Hee of South Korea takes on Norway's Trude Gundersen in Sydney
South Koreans excelled in Sydney
The origins of taekwondo may date back 2,000 years, but the sport is just a baby in Olympic terms.

Translated as "the way of kicking and striking", it is thought to be a combination of different Asian martial arts and Korean kickboxing techniques.

It came to the fore in the 1950s when Korean martial arts leaders decided it should be promoted internationally.

The first world championships were not held until 1973, and taekwondo featured at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics as a demonstration sport.

It received its promotion to the Olympic ranks at the International Olympic Committee session in 1994, and made its debut in Sydney four years ago.

South Korean ambitions were tempered by the fact that each country was only allowed to send four fighters to Sydney.

It meant that Cuba, Greece, the USA, China and hosts Australia were also able to strike gold.

The South Korean contingent went home with three gold medals and one silver, with featherweight Sin Joon-Sik their only representative to lose a bout.

There were angry scenes after the women's 57kg semi-final, however, when the Turkish camp claimed bias after their fighter Hamide Bikcin lost to South Korea's Jung Jae-Eun.


MEDAL TABLE (Top seven)
Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
Men (since 2000)
South Korea 1 1 0 2
Cuba 1 0 0 1
Greece 1 0 0 1
USA 1 0 0 1
Australia 0 1 0 1
Germany 0 1 0 1
Spain 0 1 0 1
Women (since 2000)
South Korea 2 0 0 2
Australia 1 0 0 1
China 1 0 0 1
Cuba 0 0 1 1
Norway 0 0 1 1
Russia 0 0 1 1
Vietnam 0 0 1 1





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