(Reuters) – Olympic taekwondo champion Cha Dong-min is keen to salvage his bruised pride by winning the gold at the 2016 Rio Games and re-establish South Korea as a superpower in the sport.
The 29-year-old failed to defend his title at the London Games after a defeat in the quarter-finals, which was the country’s first loss in the heaviest weight class since the sport’s introduction in the 2000 Sydney Games.
“I want to restore my honor,” Cha was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency. “In Beijing, I was thrilled to be at the Olympics, and in London, I felt so much pressure because I was under the spotlight as the top gold medal hopeful.
“Now, it feels almost the same as the 2008 Olympics, but I feel more comfortable.
“In my weight class, there are tall fighters who have good agility. But I have already finished analyzing them and I’m ready to fight.”
South Korea had one of it’s lowest medal hauls in the sport in London, winning one gold and a silver compared to the four medals captured in each of the previous three editions.
“It is true that there’s been an increase in parity in taekwondo,” Cha added. “I want to rebuild South Korea’s legacy in the men’s over-80kg division in Rio.”
(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)