The Australian National Team has descended on Baku, Azerbaijan, to trade blows with the world's best. We'll keep you up-to-date on our National Team performances throughout the week. Our blog will be updated at the end of each day local time.
Time difference: The east coast of Australia is 6 hours ahead of Baku, while the west coast is 4.
Stacey Hymer (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), -57kg
Round of 64: Stacey Hymer Def Carla Tito (R1: 11-0, R2: 13-2):
Hymer faced Ecuador's Carla Tito in her opening bout. Tito is an experienced competitor who has represented her country at numerous international events, including the Pan American Championships.
Hymer was dominant in the first round, leaving no openings for her opponent to land significant strikes. She patiently picked Tito apart, mixing up her kicking attacks en route to an 11-0 scoreline.
Hymer picked up where she left off in the second round, using body kicks to skip to a 4-0 lead, before landing a beautiful head kick to extend her advantage to 7-2. Smooth kicking to the body helped her see out the victory 13-2.
Round of 32: Arlet Ortiz Benito Def Stacey Hymer (R1: 0-0, R2: 6-5)
Next up, Hymer faced Spain's Arlet Ortiz Benito, who is a European Championships medallist and gold medallist at the Spanish Open, Dutch Open, Riga Open and Luxembourg Open.
Round One was extremely tight, with neither athlete giving their opponent an inch. Hymer came close to landing a few solid strikes, but it was ultimately a 0-0 stalemate.
After another cagey minute in Round Two, Ortiz Benito opening the scoring with a well-placed punch, before Hymer responded with a punch of her own. Both fighters went for it in the final 15 seconds, with Benito Ortiz landing a head kick and body kick to take a 6-1 lead.
Hymer stormed back in the last 10 seconds, reducing the gap to 6-5, and narrowly missing follow up strikes to steal victory at the death.
Congratulations Stacey Hymer
She'll be disappointed with the result, but Hymer can hold her head high after two strong performances. A really dynamic display in the first fight and there was nothing in the second - against a top-class opponent. Well done Stacey!
Tom Afonczenko (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), 68kg
Round of 128: Tom Afonczenko Def Alex Ryder (R1: 10-2, R2: 10-2)
Afonczenko's first bout was against New Zealand's Alex Ryder, an experienced opponent who has medalled at numerous events, including the Oceania Championships, Australian Open, Pacific Games, WT President’s Cup and Tahiti Open.
In Round One, clean striking to the body and an excellent head kick allowed Afonczenko to race to an 8-0 lead within the first minute of the contest. He comfortably closed out the round 10-2.
It was a similar story in the second round. Ryder briefly took a 2-0 lead, but Afonczenko hit back with a combination of punches and kicks. He found numerous openings in the final minute of the round, taking full advantage with power and precision. The score was once again 10-2.
Round of 64: Ho-Jun Jin Def Tom Afonczenko (R1: 2-0, R2: 9-3)
Next up, Afonczenko faced a highly decorated opponent, and one of the medal favourites in the -68kg division at these Championships. Korea's Ho-Jun Jin is a multiple-time Asian Games and Grand Prix medallist, with further championships from across the globe.
The opening round was extremely tight, with two point deductions against Afonczenko the only thing splitting the pair.
The Second Round was also tight, with Afonczenko punching his way to an early 1-0 lead, before Jin landed two of his own to edge ahead 2-1. Although Afonczenko evened the scores with another punch, Jin found an extra gear in the last 30 seconds, landing a few body kicks in a frantic finish to take the round 9-3.
Congratulations Tom Afonczenko
Another great effort for Australia. Afonczenko was clinical in his first fight and and changed up his style for a much tougher opponent in the next round. He proved to be a challenging matchup for Ho-Jun Jin, who is certainly a world-class fighter. A really encouraging performance, well done Tom!
Rebecca Murray (Edge Taekwondo, QLD), -68kg
Round of 64: Anh Ngan Tran def Rebecca Murray (R1: 6-5, R2: 15-3)
Murray faced Vietnam’s Anh Ngan Tran, an Asian Open gold medallist and Asian Championships Quarter-Finalist, who’s competing in her second Senior World Championships.
Murray got off to a strong start in Round One, landing an excellent head kick in the opening minute. Tran hit back with a body kick and a punch to level the scores at 3-3. Tran took the lead with a point deduction, but Murray quickly landed a beautiful kick to go up 5-4. Tran edged it in the final 30 seconds with a punch and a point deduction – 6-5.
A, very tight, back-and-forth round. Very little between the two fighters.
Tran was quick out of the blocks in the second round, landing a couple of head kicks to take a 6-1 lead. Murray pushed the pace and edged her way back to 6-3 down. But Tran mixed up her attacks, landing well-placed punches and kicks to end the fight 15-3.
Congratulations Rebecca Murray
Murray gave a strong account of herself today, particularly in the first round. An impressive performance considering it was her first appearance at the World Taekwondo Senior Championships! Well done Rebecca, we look forward to seeing you fly the flag for Australia again soon!
Emily Stellino (Global Martial Arts, NSW), -73kg
Round of 32: Polina Khan Def Emily Stellino (R1: 4-2, R2: 6-3)
Stellino faced Polina Khan, a silver medallist at the World Junior Taekwondo Championships and Taoyuan Senior Grand Prix. The experienced Russian has won 22 Senior medals at major events all over the world.
Both fighters were evenly matched in the opening round. Stellino made up for an early point deduction with a slick punch to make it 1-1. Khan returned the favour, before a point deduction was awarded against her – 2-2.
In the last 50 seconds of the round, both fighters searched for an opening. The round seemed destined to finish 2-2, but Khan managed to land a kick with just 3 seconds left on the clock! It finished 4-2.
Khan made a strong start in Round Two, taking a 3-0 lead. Both fighters exchanged kicks, with Khan landing to the head and Stellino to the body – 6-2.
Stellino pushed the pace in the final minute of the fight to try and close the gap, but Khan was able to evade her advances and secure victory in another close round. 6-3 in the end.
Congratulations Emily Stellino
Another strong performance for the Aussies today. Stellino will be disappointed not to get the win in a close fight, but she pushed a highly decorated and seasoned opponent, and will leave Baku knowing she can compete at world level. We look forward to seeing her come back even stronger! Well done Emily!
Bailey Lewis (City West Taekwondo, VIC), -58kg
Round of 64: Bailey Lewis Def Josef Alami (R1: 6-1, R2: 15-3)
First up, Lewis faced the 2022 Riga Open bronze medallist from Sweden, Josef Alami.
A clinical first round for Lewis. He opened the scoring with a nice kick to the body. Alami landed a solid punch to make it 2-1, but Lewis finished the round strongly, landing a big head kick and earning a point deduction in the final seconds as he took the round 6-1.
Lewis’ kicking was crisp in the second round, finding the mark numerous times. A terrific array of head and body kicks overwhelmed Alami as Lewis ended the fight 15-3.
Round of 32: Bailey Lewis Def Amirbek Turaev (R1: 0-0, R2: 5-4, R3: 4-2)
Lewis’ next opponent was Uzbekistan’s Amirbek Turaev, a talented fighter who holds a bronze medal from the World Taekwondo Cadet Championships (2017) and a silver medal from the World Junior Taekwondo Championships (2018). He’s continued to build on that success at senior level.
A very tight first round. Both fighters were calculated and read each other’s attacks very well. No scores in that one – 0-0.
Turaev opened the scoring in Round Two with a head kick. Lewis responded beautifully, spinning acrobatically to land a head kick of his own. He kept the pressure on, turning a 0-3 deficit into a 5-3 lead. Turaev forced a point deduction in the dying seconds but Lewis took the round 5-4.
Round Three was cagey in the opening minute, with both fighters choosing their strikes and attacks carefully. Lewis eventually found an opening, landing a beautiful turning kick to the body for a 4-0 lead. Turaev came at him hard in an attempt to close the gap, but Lewis held on to win the deciding round 4-2!
Great fight! A real nail-biter! Terrific performance from Lewis.
Round of 16: Adrian Vicente Yunta Def Bailey Lewis (R1: 5-0, R2: 4-3)
Next up, Lewis faced Spain's Adrian Vicente Yunta, a four-time Grand Prix medallist and Tokyo Olympics Quarter-Finalist. This is Vicente Yunta's fourth appearance at the Senior World Championships.
An intriguing opening round between two great fighters at the top of their game. They kept each other at bay for a minute and half, until Vicente Yunta broke the deadlock with a punch. In the last 10 seconds of the round, the Spaniard landed a body kick and Lewis was deducted a couple of points. 5-0 for Vicente Yunta, but it was very close right until the end.
Lewis took a 1-0 lead in the first minute of Round Two after a foul by Vicente Yunta. The Spaniard landed a punch to level the scores with 35 seconds remaining. Then he landed a solid kick to go up 3-1.
Lewis threw a barrage of strikes in the last 20 seconds to stay in the fight. Both fighters had a point deducted with 5 seconds remaining, leaving the score at 4-2 to Vicente Yunta.
Lewis threw fast, heavy shots in the final sequence, earning another point, but unfortunately falling just short – 4-3.
An agonising end to a great contest.
Congratulations Bailey Lewis
What an effort by Bailey Lewis! He took out two top class opponents en route to the Round of 16 and pushed Vicente Yunta all the way. He was so close to forcing a third round in that last fight. Lewis will be disappointed not to make the podium this year, but he did Australia proud today. Such fine margins in this sport. Well done today Bailey and thank you for three really entertaining fights!
Saffron Tambyrajah (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), -49kg
Round of 64: Saffron Tambyrajah Def Kajal Shrestha (R1: 13-4, R2: 14-0)
Tambyrajah’s first opponent was Nepal’s Kajal Shrestha, a South Asian Games champion and China Open medallist, who has represented her country at both the World Championships and the Military World Games.
Tambyrajah was sharp out of the blocks in Round One, landing a nice head kick and punch to take a 4-0 lead. Both fighters exchanged kicks, with a point deduction bringing the score to 6-3.
From there, Tambyrajah hit another gear, peppering Shrestha with a series of strikes to the head and body. This included a brilliant passage where she landed two head kicks within seconds of each other. She won the round comfortably 13-4.
Tambyrajah picked up where she left off in the second round, landing a slick punch and two heavy head kicks in the opening 10 seconds. 7-0.
Further punches, head kicks and a point deduction allowed her to take an unassailable 14-0 lead. Tambyrajah moved on to the next round with almost a minute to spare.
A great start to the tournament! Shrestha had no answers for that clinical display!
Round of 32: Saffron Tambyrajah Def Martina Corelli (R1: 5-2, R2: 10-2)
Next up, Tambyrajah faced Italy’s Martina Corelli, a fighter who has won a string of medals at international events, including the Dutch Open, Croatia Open, Albania Open, Greece Open and Polish Open. Corelli has also represented her country at the World Championships (Juniors and Seniors), European Championships and Military World Games.
In Round One, Tambyrajah opened the scoring with a brilliant punch and head kick combination. 4-0 to the Aussie.
Tambyrajah then slipped in a nice punch to extend her lead to 5-0 with 30 seconds left in the round. Corelli closed the gap to 5-2 after a couple of point deductions, but Tambyrajah won the round comfortably.
There was a cagey opening minute in Round Two, until Tambyrajah took a 2-0 lead after a couple of point deductions. From there, the Aussie hit another level, landing a beautiful body kick, followed by two precise head kicks. Suddenly it was 10-2! And that’s how the round ended.
Tambyrajah moved on to the Round of 16 with another fantastic performance. She looked extremely sharp!
Round of 16: Panipak Wongpattanakit Def Saffron Tambyrajah (R1: 18-6, R2: 11-3)
In the Round of 16, Tambyrajah faced the legendary Panipak Wongpattanakit. The Thai fighter has won two gold medals and a bronze at the Olympics as well as two golds, a silver and a bronze in the World Championships. She’s also won 2 golds at the Universiade Games and 12 medals at Grand Prix events.
Wongpattanakit came out firing in the first round, throwing thudding shots at high speed. She landed two body kicks, and a head kick, in quick succession, to take a 7-0 lead.
Tambyrajah hit back with a nice head kick and Wongpattanakit countered to make it 10-3. Another head kick by Wongpattanakit was followed by a good body kick from Tambyrajah. It was 13-5 after one minute of Round One.
Wongpattanakit ended the round with a couple more body shots to make it 18-6.
Tambyrajah did a good job of keeping Wongpattanakit at bay in the first minute of Round Two, and was inches away from landing a nice head kick. The Thai fighter found the target 50 seconds in, with a nice body shot. A point deduction then gave her a 3-0 lead.
With 35 seconds left in the round, Tambyrajah went on the attack and was unfortunately knocked down by a head kick. 7-0 to Wongpattanakit, but Tambyrajah got straight back to her feet and landed a punch. Wongpattanakit then landed a few more kicks and drew some point deductions for an 11-3 round.
Congratulations Saffron Tambyrajah
A Round of 16 showing for Tambyrajah. After some brilliant performances in her opening matches, she fell short against a superstar of the game in Wongpattanakit. While she was hoping to go further in the tournament, facing an elite competitor like Wongpattanakit will stand her in good stead for the future. Her wins over quality opponents from Nepal and Italy should also give her great confidence. Her slick striking was a joy to watch at times. Well done on a fantastic tournament Saffron!
Liam Sweeney (One Taekwondo, QLD), -80kg
Round of 64: Liam Sweeney def Cedric Ndzouli (R1: 3-0, R2: 6-9, R3: 6-2)
Sweeny’s first opponent was Canada’s Cedric Ndzouli, a fighter who has medalled at major events all over the world, including the Commonwealth Championships, Pan Am Open, Puerto Rico Open, Canada Open and the WT President’s Cup.
In the first round, both fighters did a great job of evading each other’s dynamic attacks. Sweeney came close to landing a couple of head kicks, whilst patiently waiting for an opening.
It came in the last 15 seconds, when Sweeney drew first blood with a nice body kick. The kick sent Ndzouli to the mat, giving Sweeney a 3-0 lead. Ndzouli got up and responded with a series of flurries in the dying seconds, but Sweeney defended each one brilliantly. Round one went to the Aussie.
Ndzouli changed his approach in the second road, mixing more punches into his attacks. Sweeney countered well though, landing a body kick to go up 2-0. Ndzouli returned the favour, landing two body kicks to snatch the lead 4-2.
Ndzouli stretched his lead to 6-2 with 40 seconds left in the round. Sweeney threw everything at him to close the gap, landing a nice body kick and drawing a foul, but unfortunately the Canadian caught him with a head kick on the counter. 9-6 round for Ndzouli.
Sweeney took the initiative in the deciding round, grabbing an early 2-0 lead. A pinpoint body kick doubled his advantage with 40 seconds remaining. Ndzouli also landed to the body with 15 seconds left, reducing the lead to 4-2. But Sweeney made sure of the victory in the dying seconds with another clean strike. 6-2. Sweeney Advances.
A terrific performance by Sweeney. He put in a strong first round and the experienced Ndzouli responded with varied attacks in the second. The Aussie lifted his game in the decider to secure victory.
Round of 32: Liam Sweeney Def Apostolos Telikostoglou (R1: 6-3, R2: 6-6)
Sweeney’s next opponent was Apostolos Telikostoglou, a highly decorated Greek athlete with 27 senior medals from major events across the globe. The veteran has won silver medals at the World Junior Taekwondo Championships and the World Senior Taekwondo Championships as well as gold at the Multi European Games.
The fighters exchanged body kicks at the beginning of Round One, with Sweeney taking a slender lead via a point deduction 3-2.
Telikotoglou levelled the scores with 40 seconds remaining by catching Sweeney with a punch. But Sweeney landed a beautiful head kick in the last few seconds to take the round 6-3.
The Greek landed a nice punch to take an early 1-0 lead in Round Two. Sweeney replied with a head kick to go up 3-1.
Sweeney then darted into range to land a punch, but Telikostoglou caught him with a body kick on his way in to reduce the deficit to 4-3.
In a thrilling finish to the fight, Telikostoglou levelled the scores at 4-4 after a point deduction. With a couple of seconds left on the clock, both fighters threw swift kicks at each other – and both landed! 6-6 in the end. Sweeney advances to the Round of 16!
A huge scalp for Sweeney! He took out a world-class athlete in a nail-biting contest!
Round of 16: Faysal Sawadogo Def Liam Sweeney (R1: 8-0, R2: 5-6, R3: 4-4)
Sweeney faced Faysal Sawadogo in the Round of 16 – an experienced fighter from Burkina Faso, who is competing in his fourth Senior World Championships. He’s an African Games and African Championships medallist as well as a Dutch Open, Belgian Open, Austrian Open, Luxembourg Open and European Clubs Championships medallist.
A very tight opening round. Scores were locked at 0-0 for almost a minute and half, until a point deduction and head kick gave Sawadogo a 4-0 advantage. Two body kicks in the final 15 seconds sealed the round for Sawadogo 8-0.
Sweeney opened the second round with a strong body kick to take a 2-0 lead. The pair exchanged body kicks with 50 seconds remaining, leaving the score at 4-2.
Sawadogo levelled the score at 4-4, but Sweeney restored his advantage with 6 seconds left in the round, through an excellent body kick. Although there was a point deduction with 2 seconds remaining, Sweeney held on to win the round 6-5.
An early foul in Round Three gave Sweeney a 1-0 lead. He extended his advantage with a body kick, then a point deduction gave the Aussie a 4-0 lead with 40 seconds remaining.
Sawadogo landed to the body with 15 seconds left, making it 4-2 to Sweeney.
With 1 second left on the clock, Sawadogo landed a buzzer-beater to level the scores at 4-4 and snatch victory.
What devastating end to a fantastic contest. Sweeney fought so well and looked like he was on his way to the Quarter Finals. A disappointing result, but he showed so much skill and heart out there today.
Congratulations Liam Sweeney
The tournament has ended in heartbreak for Sweeney, and I’m sure he’ll have nightmares about the last second of the Sawadogo fight. But he should be extremely proud of the way he performed in Baku. He beat a World Championship silver medallist today and was within touching distance of a World Championship Quarter Final! Let's not forget that he did all this in his first Senior World Championships! A great experience that he can build on. Well done Liam, you did Australia proud!
Arash Mozhdeh (Mozhdeh Martial Arts, VIC), -87kg
Round of 64: Michael Rodriguez Def Arash Mozhdeh (R1: 13-5, R2: 8-3)
Mozhdeh faced Michael Rodriguez, an American athlete who has won multiple gold medals at the Pan American Championships and the Pan Am Open, and further medals at the US Open, Canada Open, Mexico Open, WT President’s Cup, Rio Open and Puerto Rico Open.
Rodriguez opened the scoring in Round One with some solid body kicks, taking a 6-0 lead.
Mozdheh laned a nice punch to cut back some of Rodriguez’s advantage. A couple of point deductions against both fighters resulted in a 7-2 scoreline. They then exchanged strikes, with Rodriguez landing a body kick and Mozhdeh landing a punch. 9-3.
A couple more body kicks landed for Rodriguez, while Mozhdeh increased his score on the back of two point deductions. 13-5 in the end.
Rodriguez landed a couple of kicks to the body at the start of Round Two. Mozhdeh landed one of his own to make it 4-2, before Rodriguez landed a solid head kick for 7-2.
Point deductions against both fighters meant the round finished 8-3.
It was an interesting chess match between two very experienced competitors. That was by no means an easy fight for Rodriguez, who made the Quarter Finals today and narrowly lost to bronze medallist Arian Sallimi. A solid performance from Mozhdeh!
Congratulations Arash Mozhdeh
Mozhdeh will be disappointed with the result today, but he put in a solid performance against a very talented and experienced athlete. There was very little in that second round, in particular. This was also Mozhdeh’s third appearance at the World Championships for Australia, which is a fantastic achievement. Well done Arash!
Reba Stewart (Halls Taekwondo, VIC), +73kg
Round of 32: Reba Stewart Def Rodali Barua (R1: 3-1, R2: 5-8, R3: 3-1)
Reba Stewart’s first opponent was Rodali Barua, an Indian fighter competing at her second Senior World Taekwondo Championships. Barua has won gold medals at the El Hassan Open, WT President’s Cup and Indian Open. She has also represented her country at the Universiade Games and Asian Games.
A tight opening round went scoreless for the first minute and a half, until Stewart took a 1-0 lead. She followed this up with a nice body kick, which Barua countered with a punch. 3-1 to Stewart.
Barua upped her aggression in the second round, landing a solid body kick to go up 2-0. Stewart returned the favour to level the scores. The Indian then landed a punch and a head kick to jump to a 6-2 lead.
Stewart came on strong later in the round – a point deduction and a body kick brought it back to 6-5. But Barua held on and closed the round with a good body kick. 8-5.
Both fighters were cautious and calculated at the start of Round Three. Stewart forced a point deduction to take a 1-0 lead, then Barua slipped in a punch to make it 1-1.
Stewart landed a crucial body kick with 25 seconds remaining and although Barua threw the kitchen sink at her for the rest of the round, the Aussie would not be denied. She took the round and booked her place in the Round of 16.
Great performance from Stewart! It was a close fight, where even the tiniest mistake could have cost her, but she held her nerve brilliantly for a deserved victory.
Round of 16: Nafia Kus Def Reba Stewart (R1: 7-0, R2: 7-5)
Stewart’s next opponent was one of the world’s best heavyweights. Turkish Olympian Nafia Kus is a Universiade Games champion and four-time World Championships medallist, with 14 Grand Prix medals under her belt.
Kus opened the scoring in Round One with a body kick, then landed two punches to take a 4-0 lead.
The Turkish fighter ended the round with a solid body kick that sent Stewart to the mat. 7-0 to Kus.
In Round Two, Kus landed a punch to take a 1-0 lead. Stewart began to increase the pressure, pushing Kus backwards several times. She unfortunately walked into two quick head kicks on one of those occasions, which gave Kus a 7-1 advantage.
With 30 seconds remaining, Stewart stormed back into the contest, landing a great punch to reduce the deficit to 7-2. With seconds remaining, she landed a beautiful head kick on the Turkish star to move within touching distance. 7-5.
After a review confirmed that Stewart’s head kick hit the target, the clock restarted with 2 seconds to go. A desperate flurry from Stewart unfortunately missed the target and Kus held on to advance.
A really interesting fight. Stewart got stronger as the contest went on and gave Kus a bit of a scare at the end of Round Two! Great patience and adjustments by the Aussie against a world class opponent.
Congratulations Reba Stewart
Stewart was unfortunately unable to make the podium this year, but the Tokyo Olympian gave a great account of herself today. She backed herself in a tense fight with Barua and lifted her game against an international star. A very encouraging display. And how about that head kick on Nafia Kus! Well done Reba!
Matthew Summerfield (Rawlins Taekwondo, WA) – 63kg
Round of 64: Juirdo Cani Def Matthew Summerfield (R1: 13-11, R2: 12-14, R3: 17-16)
Matthew Summerfield's first ever match at the Senior World Taekwondo Championships came against Albania’s Juirdo Cani, a veteran who has won medals at the Korea Open, Greece Open, Dutch Open, Bosnia and Herzegovina Open and the Montenegro Open. Cani has also represented his country at both the World Championships and European Championships.
Summerfield was quick out of the blocks in Round One, landing a peach of a head kick. Cani hit back with a punch and forced a point deduction to bring the score to 3-2.
Cani hit the lead with a body kick, followed by a punch and a point deduction. 6-3 to the Albanian. But a beautiful head kick from Summerfield levelled the score.
Summerfield hit the front again with a body kick, but a point deduction and two body kicks put Cani in an 11-8 lead.
Summerfield responded yet again, tying things up through a body kick 11-11. But Cani managed to sneak in another body kick to claim the round 13-11.
Round Two was just as action-packed as the first. Summerfield landed a punch and then went up 2-0 via a point deduction. Cani shot out to a 4-2 lead courtesy of a point deduction and a head kick.
A point deduction against both fighters left the score at 5-3, before Cani extended his advantage with a head kick. Then it was Summerfield’s turn to mount a comeback – a beautiful head kick evened the score at 7-7.
Summerfield landed a nice punch, but also suffered a couple of point deductions. A body kick restored his lead to 10-9 with 10 seconds remaining.
A body kick from Summerfield was met with a nice punch by Cani – 12-10. Both fighters landed a body kick in the closing seconds as Summerfield held on to win the round 14-12.
Round Three was fiercely competitive once again. A couple of point deductions and a body kick gave Summerfield the early edge. Cani landed a body kick to reduce the deficit to 4-2.
A point deduction and two more body kicks allowed Cani to take a 7-4 lead, but Summerfield landed a beautiful combination of a punch and head kick – simultaneously. 8-7 to the Aussie.
Two quick body kicks put Summerfield 12-7 ahead, but Cani kept himself in the contest with a nice head kick. The fighters traded strikes again, and with 12 seconds remaining, Summerfield led 14-12.
Cani landed a head kick to snatch the lead 15-14, with 5 seconds remaining. Summerfield stormed back with a body kick to go up 16-15, but Cani landed a body kick of his own with 1 second left on the clock!
The Albanian advanced with a buzzer-beater.
What a high-scoring, action-packed, and ultimately heart-breaking fight! Summerfield gave it everything and his technical ability was on full display at times.
Congratulations Matthew Summerfield
A cruel end to an impressive display from the 18-year-old. He showed such dynamic skills and an exceptional ability to push the pace against an older and more experienced competitor. Summerfield will learn a lot from that experience and he showed a lot of promise in his Senior World Championships debut. Well done Matthew, you flew the flag proudly and gave us a super entertaining fight!
Juliet Lahood (Global Martial Arts, NSW), -46kg
Round of 64: Juliet Lahood Def Anita Kaminska (R1: 13-0, R2: 15-3)
Lahood’s first opponent was Poland’s Anita Kaminska, a Polish Open, Belgian Open and Multi European Games medallist.
Lahood landed two lovely body kicks in the opening round, jumping to a 4-0 lead. A head kick stretched her advantage to 7-0 after just 30 seconds.
Another solid head kick landed – 10-0 to the Aussie. Kaminska was deducted a point for hitting the mat, then a body kick capped off a dominant round for Lahood. She won it 13-0 with 11 seconds to spare.
In Round Two, Kaminska went on the attack, but lost her footing as she pursued Lahood. The Polish fighter landed a nice head kick though, to take a 3-1 lead.
Lahood evened the score with a body kick, then landed two huge head kicks, one after another, to jump to a 9-3 lead.
Lahood repeated the trick again with 42 seconds left in the round. Two consecutive head kicks ended the fight 15-3.
A comprehensive victory for Lahood. She had far too many attacking tools for Kaminska.
Round of 32: Juliet Lahood Def Laura Sancho (R1: 6-1, R2: 13-7)
Lahood’s next opponent was Costa Rica’s Laura Sancho, a fighter who has medalled multiple times at the Pan American Championships, Mexico Open, Estonia Open, WT President’s Cup, Estonia Open and Havana Open. She has also represented her country at the Senior World Championships and Grand Prix events.
In Round One, Sancho took an early lead courtesy of a point deduction. Lahood eventually found her groove, landing two solid body kicks to open up a 4-1 lead.
The Aussie piled on the pressure at the end of the round, knocking Sancho to the mat twice with kicks to win the round 6-1.
In a great exchange at the beginning of Round Two, Sancho landed a body kick, but Lahood countered with a beautiful head kick.
Both fighters received point deductions, before Lahood landed several shots to the head and body, knocking Sancho to the mat in the process. The Aussie went ahead 11-3 with 15 seconds remaining.
Both fighters exchanged stinging body shots, but Lahood was just too slick for the Costa Rican, winning the round 13-7 and advancing to the Round of 16.
Round of 16: Rita Bakisheva Def Juliet Lahood (R1: 5-0, R2: 5-3)
Next up, Lahood faced Kazakhstan’s Rita Bakisheva, a bronze medallist at the World Taekwondo Cadet Championships, who has won senior medals at the Asian Championships, German Open, Polish Open, Israel Open, Belgian Open and the Asian Clubs Championships.
The opening round was tight, going scoreless for the first minute. Eventually, Bakisheva broke the deadlock with a couple of punches. 2-0 to the Kazakh.
Bakisheva then managed to land a head kick with 11 seconds left, to take a cagey round 5-0.
In Round Two, Bakisheva got off to a quick start, landing a head kick to take a 3-0 lead. But Lahood hit back with a beauty of her own. 3-3.
The Kazakh then snuck in a body kick to edge ahead 5-3. Lahood pressed the action for the remainder of the round, but wasn’t able to hit the target. Bakisheva advanced from a tight contest.
Lahood will be disappointed not to move into the Quarter Finals, but there was very little in that fight. She gave a top-class opponent a strong technical challenge.
Congratulations Juliet Lahood
Just seven months ago, Juliet Lahood was defeated in the Round of 64 at this event. She’s made fantastic strides to reach the Round of 16 in Baku. In the end, she was narrowly defeated by a very talented athlete in a tight, tense contest. She should feel extremely proud of her efforts, especially some of the beautiful, free-flowing combinations she threw in her victories against Kaminska and Sancho. Well done Juliet!
Jake Buhagiar (Halls Taekwondo, VIC), -54kg
Round of 64: Milan Molle Def Jake Buhagiar (R1: 11-12, R2: 15-3, R3: 14-8)
Buhagiar faced the Netherlands’ Milan Molle, a multiple-time European Championships medallist and European Clubs Champion, who has also won medals at the Dutch Open, Sweden Open, Sofia Open, Spanish Open, Belgian Open and German Open.
In Round One, Buhagiar took the lead through a point deduction, then consolidated it with a head kick. 4-0 to the Aussie.
Molle landed a body kick, then two punches to bring the a score level at 4-4. The Dutch fighter took the lead with another punch, but Buhagiar hit back with a body kick. 6-5 to the Aussie.
A great exchange saw Molle land two solid punches and a body kick, but Buhagiar countered with excellent body kicks of his own to go up 10-9. Molle landed another body kick with 6 seconds remaining, but Buhagiar took the round with a body kick that landed just a second before the buzzer. Finally a buzzer-beater that goes the Aussies’ way! Buhagiar wins the round 12-11.
Molle picked up the pace in Round Two, trying to push Buhagiar back and overwhelm him at every opportunity.
Buhagiar landed a nice body kick at the start of the round, but Molle responded with a head kick and a body kick to take a 5-2 lead.
A point was deducted from the Dutch fighter, but he found his groove, stringing together some solid punches, head kicks and body kicks (aided by a couple of point deductions) to take the round 15-3.
Both fighters gave it everything in the deciding round. They exchanged body kicks, with a point deduction against Molle leaving the score at 3-3.
Solid head and body kicks allowed Molle to take an 8-3 lead. The fighters then exchanged head kicks to put the score at 11-6 in Molle’s favour. Despite some point deductions, the Dutch fighter stretched his lead to 14-8 with a head kick.
For the last 20 seconds of the fight, Buhagiar pushed hard to close the gap, but Molle was evaded his attacks and hung on for a hard-fought victory. 14-8.
A tough loss for Buhagiar, who gave his all in an intense scrap. A fantastic effort though for such a young fighter in his first Senior World Championships.
Congratulations Jake Buhagiar
Buhagiar was hoping to go further in this year’s Senior World Championships, but he still impressed in his debut at the event. His timing and technical ability looks really promising and he never backed down, even when the fight got quite intense. We look forward to seeing him come back even stronger. Well done Jake!
Amber Heslop (Forza Taekwondo, ACT), -62kg
Round of 64: Liliia Khuzina Def Amber Heslop (R1: 14-2, R2: 11-0)
Heslop faced Liliia Khuzina, a Russian fighter who holds bronze medals from the World Taekwondo Cadet Championships and the World Junior Taekwondo Championships. Khuzina has also won multiple gold medals at the European Championships, Multi European Games, WT President’s Cup, Serbia Open, Turkish Open, Israel Open and the European Clubs Championships.
Heslop got off to a good start in Round One, landing a solid body kick to take a 2-0 lead. The gap was reduced to 2-1 when Heslop was deducted a point for losing her footing.
Khuzina landed a swift head kick, followed by a body kick to jump to a 6-2 lead. Heslop came within inches of landing a punch and a body kick, before Khuzina caught her with a head kick on the counter.
Heslop continued to press forward and keep the Russian on her toes, but Khuzina proved very elusive, evading some solid strikes and landing a couple more to the head and body to take the round 14-2.
The first half of Round Two was very even. A big turning head kick almost hit the target for Heslop, then Khuzina responded with a nice body kick for a 2-0 lead.
The Russian landed a solid punch and body kick combination to extend her advantage to 5-0.
Heslop went toe-to-toe with Khuzina for most of the round, but the Russian picked up the pace in the finals 35 seconds, landing two head kicks to win it 11-0.
A clinical performance from the Russian. Heslop will be disappointed with the loss, but she never stopped pressing forward and several of her power shots were so close to landing! The Russian was just a bit better at taking her opportunities today.
Congratulations Amber Heslop
A great experience for Heslop. She was certainly thrown in the deep end in her first Senior World Championships. Khuzina is a highly decorated athlete and is considered one of the sport’s rising stars. She went on to win the gold medal today, so there’s no shame in this loss. Heslop can now say she traded blows with a World Champion. A fantastic debut effort and one she’ll learn from. Heslop showed great composure and anticipation to match Khuzina’s pace and she certainly made the Russian work for the victory. Well done on your first appearance at the Senior World Championships Amber! We look forward to seeing you build on this.
Leon Sejranovic (Notorious Martial Arts, VIC), -74kg
Round of 64: Leon Sejranovic Def Lukasz Cudnoch (R1: 0-10, R2: 2-2, R3: 14-2)
Sejranovic’s first opponent was Polish fighter Lukasz Cudnoch – a gold medallist at the Riga Open and Polish Open, who has also won several medals at the Dutch Open, Slovenia Open, Croatia Open German Open and European Open.
After a cautious opening 30 seconds of the first round, Cudnoch opened the scoring with a head kick.
The Polish fighter extended his lead to 5-0 with a body kick, sparking some more volume from Sejranovic in the final 40 seconds of the round. Cudnoch caught him a couple of times on the way in to take the round 10-0.
Sejranovic found his feet in Round Two, tightening up his defence and shutting down Cudnoch’s offence.
Sejranovic landed a thudding body kick to take a 2-0 lead. The Polish fighter was kept scoreless for most of the round, until a couple of point deductions went against Sejranovic for going out of bounds.
The round finished 2-2, which meant that it would go to a decider.
Sejranovic got off to a strong start in Round Three, landing a punch and head kick combo that forced Cudnoch out of bounds. The Polish fighter also landed a body kick at the tail end of that exchange. 5-2 to Sejranovic.
Sejranovic found the target with another beautiful head kick. By this point, he was on a roll and Cundnoch had no answer for his speed and precision. The Aussie landed a body kick, then a turning side kick to run away with the round 14-2.
What a comeback by Sejranovic! He made some excellent adjustments in the second and third round to defeat the Cudnoch and move on to the Round of 32!
Round of 32: Leon Sejranovic Def Omid Sahak (R1: 11-7, R2: 6-3)
Sejranovic’s next opponent was Omid Sahak, a fighter from Afghanistan who holds a silver medal from the El Hassan Open and has represented his country at the Asian Championships.
Sejranvovic got off to a flyer in Round One, landing a peach of a head kick for a 3-0 lead. Then, he landed head and body kicks in quick succession to stretch his advantage to 8-0.
The Afghan hit back with a solid head kick, but Sejranovic quickly returned the favour. 11-3 to the Aussie.
Another head kick found the target for Sahak, putting him within touching distance at 11-6. But Sejranovic kept him at bay for the rest of the round, winning it 11-7.
An early point deduction gave Sejranovic a slender lead at the start of Round Two. But a point deduction soon went in the opposite direction, levelling the scores at 1-1.
There was a further point deduction against Sahak, then Sejranovic pounced with a punch and a head kick in the closing seconds. This put him up 6-1 and despite a couple of point deductions, the Afghan couldn’t overturn the deficit. 6-3 to Sejranovic, who moved on to the Round of 16.
A great performance by Sejranovic, he got off to a much better start this time and he never really gave his opponent a chance to get going.
Round of 16: Leon Sejranovic Def Daniel Quesada Barrera (R1: 7-6, R2: 0-7, R3: 11-9)
Sejranovic’s next opponent needs no introduction. Daniel Quesada Barrera came into the tournament as the World Number One and the defending Champion. He won his second Senior World Championships gold medal last year in Guadalajara, Mexico. He also holds a World Championship bronze and over 50 medals from major continental and open tournaments.
In Round One, Quesada Barrera opened the scoring with a body kick, but Sejranovic was locked in, landing a punch and a lovely head kick. The Spaniard quickly countered with a body kick, leaving the score at 4-4.
Quesada Barrera landed a body kick to take a 6-4 lead with 25 seconds left in the round, but Sejranovic stunned him with a big head kick, taking the round 7-6.
Quesada Barrera threw everything at Sejranovic in Round Two. He took a 2-0 lead courtesy of a body kick, then threw several hard shots, eventually registering another body kick. 4-0 to the Spaniard.
Sejranovic tried to get back into the round, but suffered three point deductions, which allowed Quesada Barrera to win the round 7-0.
Sejranovic put that disappointing round behind him in the decider, taking the initiative with two excellent body kicks. 4-0 to the Aussie.
After a couple of point deductions, Quesada Barrera was within striking distance at 4-2.
Both fighters went for broke in the final 30 seconds. Sejranovic landed a body kick, while Quesada Barrera countered with a punch. A couple of point deductions against Sejranovic brought the score to 6-5. But Sejranovic pulled off a beaufitul head kick to stretch his advantage back to 9-5.
They exchanged body kicks, before Quesada Barrera landed another with 3 seconds left. But Sejranovic held on for the biggest victory of his career.
11-9 to the Aussie and the defending World Champion is out!!! Incredible!
Quarter Final: Leon Sejranovic Def Jasurbek Jaysunov (R1: 11-7, R2: 11-10)
Sejranovic’s Quarter Final opponent was Uzbekistan’s Jasurbek Jaysunov, a Grand Slam champion, with multiple Asian Championships medals as well as medals from the Beirut Open, Dutch Open, Fujairah Open, WT President’s Cup and Asian Clubs Championships.
The opening round was tense as both fighters knew what was on the line – a chance to secure a World Championship medal.
Sejranovic landed the first blow and it was a big one – a head kick that drew some big cheers.
Sejranovic followed that up with a body kick to give himself a 5-0 lead. Jaysunov made up some ground through a point deduction and a body kick, but Sejranovic re-established his lead with an excellent head kick. 8-3 to the Aussie.
Another head kick gave Sejranovic an 11-3 lead with 45 seconds remaining. The Uzbek tried desperately to close the gap, but Sejranovic played it smart, using good footwork and anticipation to stay out of trouble.
Although Jaysunov cut the lead back to 11-7, Sejranovic took the round comfortably.
Just a few seconds into the second round, Sejranovic landed a leaping head kick. Jaysunov then landed a body kick to bring the score back to 3-2, then hit the target again for a 4-3 lead.
A point deduction allowed Jaysunov to stretch his lead to 5-3. Sejranovic upped the pressure at that stage, and a point deduction brought the score to 5-4, but Jaysunov landed a nice head kick for an 8-4 lead.
In the final minute of the round, Sejranovic turned on the after-burners.
He sent Jaysunov out of bounds with some powerful attacks to earn a point deduction, then a lovely head kick levelled the score at 8-8.
Sejranovic jumped to an 11-8 lead with 15 seconds left, thanks to another precise head kick.
Jaysunov chased him around the mat in the dying seconds, and did manage to knock Sejranovic off his feet, but the Aussie would not be denied. He took the round 11-9 for a famous victory.
Incredible stuff from Sejranovic against another world-class opponent. He’s proven to be the tournament’s giant-killer. World Championship medal locked in!
Semi Final: Marko Golubic Def Leon Sejranovic (R1: 21-4, R2: 15-9)
Sejranovic fought Croatia’s Marko Golubic for a place in the 2023 World Senior Taekwondo Championships final!
After a cagey opening 30 seconds, Golubic opened the scoring with a body kick. 2-0 to the Croatian.
A couple of body kicks in quick succession allowed Golubic to jump to a 6-0 lead. Point deductions then gave him an 8-0 lead.
Sejranovic got off the mark with a body kick, but Golubic returned fire and managed to force the Aussie out of bounds, establishing an 11-2 lead.
Sejranovic pushed hard to make up the gap and unfortunately gave up some more points due to rushed attacks. A head kick and a further point deduction stretched the Croatian’s lead to 15-2.
Sejranovic managed another body kick, but a couple more strikes to the head and body allowed Golubic to take the round 21-4.
Golubic got off to a strong start in Round Two, landing two nice body kicks and a head kick for a 7-0 lead.
But Sejranovic came out with a much more positive gameplan in this round, unloading with a big body kick. Although a point deduction set him back, a peach of a head kick brought Sejranovic back to 8-5 with just 30 seconds left in the round.
Golubic landed a body kick, but Sejranovic countered brilliantly with a turning back kick. Suddenly it’s just 10-9! 10 seconds remaining.
Sejranovic surged in an effort to take the round, but Golubic held his nerve and picked him off with a couple of body kicks and a point deduction. The round finished 15-9 to the Croatian and he moved on to the final.
Another entertaining fight from Sejranovic. This time, the result didn’t go his way, but what tournament for the Victorian! Such a diverse array of attacking tools. He’s certainly put the world on notice today.
Congratulations Leon Sejranovic
Leon Sejranovic you star! An unbelievable effort! A bronze medal for the 20-year-old and the first one an able-bodied Aussie has brought home from the Senior Kyorugi World Championships in a decade! His efforts today will not only give him the confidence that he can beat anyone in the world, but also inspire the next generation of Aussie talent we’ve seen throughout the tournament. A huge moment for Australian Taekwondo. Well done Leon, you’re a champion!
Molly Park (Mozhdeh Martial Arts, VIC), -53kg
Round of 64 Nika Karabatic Def Molly Park (R1: 15-3, R2: 15-3)
Park faced Croatia’s Nika Karabatic, a World Junior Taekwondo Championships bronze medallist, who has won senior medals at prestigious events around the world, including the European Championships, Multi European Games, WT President’s Cup, Austrian Open, Slovenia Open, Belgian Open and Sofia Open.
Karabatic got off to a strong start in Round One, landing a head kick and a couple of body kicks to take a 7-0 lead.
Park hit back with an excellent head kick to bring the score to 7-3. The Croatian kept the pressure on though, forcing a point deduction and landing a body kick for 10-3.
Park was close to cutting the lead back with a head kick, just centimetres from a clean connection!
Karabatic found the target with a head kick of her own and a quick body kick won her the round 15-3.
Karabatic came out firing in Round Two, throwing numerous flurries in the opening 20 seconds and landing a couple of body kicks and a head kick for a 7-0 lead.
Park pressed forward and held her ground in the centre of the mat. This halted some of the Croatian’s momentum. While Karabatic eventually landed a body kick, Park countered with a brilliant head kick to cut her lead to 9-3.
More positive striking from Park was inches from the mark and she continued to grow into the fight. However, the experienced Croatian stayed composed and once she saw an opening, she pounced with a flurry of three body kicks. 15-3 to Karabatic, who advanced to the next round.
Congratulations Molly Park
A strong effort from Park in her first Senior World Taekwondo Championships. There were no soft touches for her today – she came up against a world-class opponent in her very first fight. But she embraced the challenge and fought with an attacking mindset. Karabatic has a lot of experience and went on to reach the Quarter Finals today. The Croatian brought a storm at times, but Park never backed down. She landed a couple of beautiful head kicks too! A great experience that will only make her a stronger in the future. Well done Molly!
Adam Meyers (The Story Centre, VIC), +87kg
Round of 64: Abdoul Issoufou Def Adam Meyers (R1: 9-0, R2: 11-4)
Meyers faced Abdoul Issoufou, a decorated athlete from Niger, who won silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics and gold at the 2017 Senior World Championships in Muju. Issoufou is also a Grand Slam champion and Grand Prix bronze medallist, with nearly 30 senior medals from continental and open tournaments.
The first 45 seconds of Round One were tight, with both fighters getting a feel for each other’s styles.
Issoufou broke the deadlock with a couple of body kicks. Meyers darted in and out of range a few times to overcome Issoufou’s longer reach and came close to landing a couple of body kicks. Issoufou caught him during one of these bursts, knocking him to the mat for a 5-0 lead.
Both fighters picked up the pace in the final 30 seconds of the round. Issoufou snuck in a couple more body kicks to take it 9-0.
Meyers came out firing in Round Two, giving the Olympic Medallist and World Champion plenty to think about in the opening 4 seconds. Two swift body kicks from the Aussie put him in 4-0 lead.
Meyers continued to push Issoufou backwards and was inches away from extending his lead, until the Niger fighter landed a solid body kick. 4-2 to Meyers.
Meyers limited Issoufou’s offence brilliantly for the majority of the round. With 15 seconds remaining, the Taekwondo legend landed a punch to bring the score to 4-3.
From there, Issoufou threw the kitchen sink at Meyers to try and steal the round. He managed to land to the head and body with 5 seconds remaining, to jump ahead 8-4.
Both fighters went for broke in the dying seconds and Issoufou managed to land a head kick with just 1 second left on the clock. 11-4 to Issoufou.
A brilliant round by Meyers against a great champion. He’ll be disappointed that he couldn’t hold on to win the second round after such brilliant work, but that was so impressive.
Congratulations Adam Meyers
It’s a shame that Meyers didn’t get more fights to showcase his skills today, but there were plenty on display against Issoufou. It doesn’t get any tougher than facing a World Champion and Olympic silver medallist, but Meyers didn’t look out of his depth against Issoufou. He gave him all he could handle in Round Two and was incredibly unlucky not to win it. Well done Adam, you did Australia proud.