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Iran stands second at world taekwondo event

Madrid, April 18, IRNA-Iran finished runner-up to South Korea in the 17th World Taekwondo Championships in Madrid on Sunday.

Iran ranked second among 125 participating teams on 63 points while South Korea celebrated the title on 80 points and Spain, the United States, and Russia finished third to fifth with 55, 47, and 31 points respectively.

The powerful Iranian team snatched one gold, three silver, and one bronze medals in men's competitions.

Iran's women taekwondo players, who made their debut in the world meet, failed to stand on podiums.

In under-72 kg, Iranian phenom and 2004 Olympics gold medalist, Hadi Saei, came under spotlight again, winning the coveted gold medal last Wednesday.

Saei, who was suffering from a leg injury, booked a berth in the second round as he was drawn no confrontation in the opening clashes and his opponent from Estonia refused to appear on the mat.

The Iranian prodigy handed his Swiss rival a humiliating 9-3 defeat in the second round.

In a cutthroat quarterfinal match the veterans called early final of under-72 kg category, World Taekwondo Player of the Year 2004, Saei, managed to edge past South Korea's Song Hyum-mum 9-8.

Spaniard Daniel Martinez, who was supported by over 4,000 home fans, was also victimized, losing to the world number one 12-6.

Renowned Japanese player, Takahino Niimi, surrendered to his injuries he picked in the semifinal against Saei, leaving the mat in favor of his title-thirsty opponent.

The red-clad Saei grabbed the glittering gold with a 5-2 victory over Russian finalist Alan Akoev.

Carlos Vasquez of Venezuela and Niimi won bronze.

Ali Tajik and Feizollah Nafjam from Iran finished runner-up last Friday.

In -78 kg, Tajik, who had overcome representatives of Slovenia, Egypt, Russia, and Republic of Azerbaijan, lost to his American rival 4-3 in the final.

In -54 kg, Nafjam edged past players from Thailand, Belarus, Japan, Australia, and Russia before his loss to a South Korean finalist.

Behzad Khodadad and Youssef Karami handed the country one silver and one bronze last Thursday.

In 58 kg, Khodadad lost to his South Korean opponent 9-7 in the final, standing second.

The Iranian representative had already defeated players from Thailand, Argentine, Belgium, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

In -84 kg, 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Karami failed to book a berth in the final as he was beaten by his South Korean rival 8-6.

On his way to the semifinal, Karami had edged past representatives of Italy, Ireland, Denmark, and Turkey.

Iran's -62 kg taekwondo player, Mohammad-Reza Mehdizadeh, avoided appearing on tatami against his Israeli rival before the semifinal stage of the 17th edition last Saturday.

Mehdizadeh, who made the decision as a gesture of defending Palestinian people, was eliminated as Ilan Goldschmidt advanced to the semifinals.

The Iranian donated his 2002 Asian silver medal to Jenin to pay tribute to Palestinian martyrs.

... Payvand News - 4/18/05 ... --

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