13 nations were able to qualify one athlete at the 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament. The two finalists from each of the eight events qualified to the Olympics. This was also the first event in which refugees could attempt to qualify under the Olympic banner. Nations were only allowed to send two athletes per gender to this event, minus any qualified through the world rankings. The European Olympic Qualification Tournament was held in Istanbul, Turkey from January 16th to January 17th 2016.
Four events were held on the first day. In the men’s -58kg it was former world junior champion and current European Games silver medalist Jesus Tortsa of Spain which grabbed the first quota though he was made to work for it as he narrowly defeated Meisam Rafiei of Iceland and required a comeback to win over Serbia’s Milos Gladovic in the semi-final. A last second comeback was also required for Israel’s Ron Attias to win the second quota as he was able to deliver a quick kick before time expired. Attias defeated Tortsa in the final 3-2.
The men’s -68kg was dominated by Poland’s Karol Robak whom won all four of his matches by double digits to secure his nation a spot in the event. The other semi-final match was a repeat match from the 2012 European Qualification Tournament between Serbia’s Damir Fejzic and Croatia’s Filip Grgic. This time Grgic was able to get some form of revenge for his loss as he was able to secure Olympic qualification for his nation by winning the match 16-9.
Two former 2012 Olympians met in the semi-final of the women’s -67kg event. The match was between Farida Azizova of Azerbaijan and Slovenia’s Franka Anic. In a very defensive minded match both athletes finished scoreless. The match would be decided by the judges where Azizova won through superiority. The second semi-final was won by Germany’s Rabia Gulec whom defeated Moldova’s Ana Ciuchitu 5-3. Azizova won the tournament winning narrowly 1-0against Gulec.
The surprise performance of the day went to Norway’s Tina Skaar in the women’s +67kg. She was able to defeat world bronze medalists Nafia Kus and Olga Ivanova to secure her nation a spot at the Olympics. The second Olympic quota went to the Netherlands as Reshmie Oogink only had to defeat a single opponent due to getting a bye in the first round. She defeated 2012 Olympian Nusa Rajher of Slovenia 7-1 to reach the finals. Skaar would win the tournament with a 4-1 win over Oogink.
On the second day the other four events were played out to completion. In the men’s -80kg it was Poland’s Piotr Pazinski and Azerbaijan’s Milad Beigi whom won quotas for their nations with semi-final victories over Richard Ordermann of Norway and Yunus Sari of Turkey respectively. Beigi won the final over Pazinski in a 14-2 blowout.
Italy’s Carlo Molfetta will not be able to defend his Olympic title as he lost in the semi-finals to Great Britain’s Mahama Cho. The second quota went to Belarus where Arman-Marshall Silla defeated Slovenia’s Ivan Trajkovic 7-5 to reach the final. Cho won the tournament over Silla by a score of 4-2.
The women’s -49kg saw 2015 World -46kg silver medalist Iryna Romoldanova of Ukraine lose a narrow 3-1 match to Azerbaijan’s Patimat Abakarova whom qualified her nation to the Olympics. The second quota went to Serbia as Tijana Bogdanovic defeated Italy’s Erica Nicoli 11-4. Abakoarova won the final match over Boganovic 6-5.
While three refugees competed in the tournament the only one seen with a chance at qualifying was Raheleh Asemani, an Iran citizen and 2010 Asian Games silver medalist currently living in Belgium. Asemani lived up to the expectation as she won the entire -57kg tournament and qualified to the Olympics. Joining her was Finland’s Suvi Mikkonen whom defeated Germany’s Anna-Lena Fromming 9-8 in the semi-finals to book her nation a spot.
This was the final opportunity for European nations to qualify to the Olympics. The other continents will have their opportunity to qualify over the coming months.
Quotas by Nations
- Azerbaijan – 3
- Poland – 2
- Belarus – 1
- Croatia – 1
- Finland – 1
- Germany – 1
- Great Britain – 1
- Individual Olympic Athletes – 1
- Israel – 1
- Netherlands – 1
- Norway – 1
- Poland – 1
- Serbia – 1
- Spain – 1
- WTF. Results Day 1 – European Qualification Tournament Rio 2016. Access on January 17 2016.
- WTF. Refugee Athlete Among 16 Taekwondo Fighters to Secure Rio 2016 Place at European Qualification Tournament. Access on January 18 2016.