TaeKwonDo is a relatively new sport in the summer Olympics. It was originally showcased in the 1998 Seoul, Korea Olympics. This also happens to be the first summer Olympics in which women were allowed to participate in Judo. Korea was only the second Asian country to ever host the Olympics (the first being Japan). Korea at the time of the Olympics was in a state of political change. And some believe the heightened world attention helped to drive further changes towards a democratic Korea.
Two games later, in the 2000 Sydney, Australia Olympics, TaeKwonDo became an official sport of the Summer Olympics. The World TaeKwonDo Federation (WTF) is recognized by Korea as the official governing body for the sport and helps to oversee Taekwondo in the Olympics. Traditionally, there are normally 16 different weight classes, several of which were represented in the 1998 demonstration games. However, to limit the number of competitors, the International Olympics Committee limited it to four gender-delineated weight classes: fly, light, middle, and heavy. Thus, these special weight classes are specific to the Olympics only.
The TaeKwonDo you see in the Olympics focuses on point sparring. Characteristic of the sport, the movements are fast and involve kicks and punches with the intent of striking vital points of the opponent’s body. Being a new sport, TaeKwonDo has not seen the same level of audience as some more established sports. That coupled with what some call confusing or inconsistent rules threaten to have the sport dropped from future Olympics.
In 1998, the Gold medalists were:
- Tae-Ho Kwon (Korea) – Men’s Finweight
- Tae-Kyung Ha (Korea) – Men’s Flyweight
- Yong-Suk Ji (Korea) – Men’s Bantamweight
- Myung-Sam Chang (Korea) – Men’s Fetherweight
- Bong-Kwon Park (Korea) – Men’s Lightweight
- Kook-Hyun Chung (Korea) – Men’s Welterweight
- Amr Hussein (Egypt) – Men’s Middleweight
- Jimmy Kim (USA) – Men’s Heavyweight
- Yu-Fang Chin (Taiwan) – Women’s Finweight
- Maria Angela Naranjo (Spain) – Women’s Flyweight
- Debra Holloway (USA) – Women’s Bantamweight
- Annemette Christensen (Denmark) – Women’s Featherweight
- Dana Hee (USA) – Women’s Lightweight
- Arlene Limas (USA) – Women’s Welterweight
- Margaretha De Jongh (Netherlands) – Women’s Middleweight
- Lynnette Love (USA) – Women’s Heavyweight