2 September 2022

Australian Taekwondo leads 2026 dream to get sport into the next Commonwealth Games

2 September 2022

Originally published in The Canberra Times, August 27 2022
by Isobel Cootes.

Australian Taekwondo is looking to repeat history, and do something the sport has not done since Sydney 2000.

It wants to debut at an international multi-sport event, like it did back in 2000 for the Olympics, but this time the sport has its eyes on the Commonwealth Games.

The Australian body is leading the charge worldwide, and launched its official bid this month to get taekwondo into the 2026 event in regional Victoria.

But what would make it even more special would be the location. As Australia's first Olympic gold medalist in the sport Lauren Burns grew up in Victoria, as did the country's first ever world champion Carmen Marton.

Australian Taekwondo chief executive Heather Garriock said it would be a dream come true for many in the sport.

"Taekwondo isn't a major sport here in Australia. It is globally, especially from an Asian and European point of view," she said.

"It would be a dream come true if we can encapsulate or, I guess, show Australia what Taekwondo is as a sport like we did in 2000.

"I think that's the beauty of the Commonwealth Games, it's just inspiring the next generation and inspiring these athletes. We've got Paris in 24. Then imagine the Comm Games in 26. That would be a great pathway."

It is amping up its push ahead of a decision later this year, and has garnered support from some of the biggest nations in the sport, including England, Canada and South Korea in its bid, alongside the world taekwondo organisation - Kukkiwon.

Garriock is hoping her next port of call will be the Victorian government.

"The Victorian government is going to play a big role," she said.

"In terms of whether we get to the first phase, I think we'll know within the next month, and then that gets put to the Commonwealth Games Federation.

"So that's the next thing, but it's more about both of them seeing the quality and substance taekwondo has. It's been sold out for the last four Olympic Games.

"And it's something that will leave a legacy come 2026 in Victoria. While it's a small sport here in Australia, taekwondo is a global sport played in over 200 countries."

Taekwondo is competing with several other sports not named in the initial 16 for the Games, with between six and eight additional sports expected to be named at the end of the year.

But it has a strong case to put forward on commercial value, gender equality, para events, and humanitarian grounds with refugees playing a big part in the sport.

Along with linking up with Olympic gold medalist Cha Dong-min as part of the sport's partnership with the South Korean Embassy.

The Rio medalist is based in Canberra but has been travelling around Australia to coach the next generation. Garriock said having that knowledge in the country, and on board for the bid, was invaluable.

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