Yohan Chang advances to round of 16, Nathalie Illiesco loses nail biter in first match
MANCHESTER, Eng.—Yvette Yong led a trio of Canadians on the opening day of the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships while advancing to the quarter-finals and locking up a top-five finish in Manchester, England.
Ranked the number-one athlete in the world in the women’s 46kg weight class heading into the event, the 29-year-old Torontonian knocked off Veronica Garces, of the Philippines 23-13 in her opening round. The former World Championship bronze medallist, who recently won gold at the World Military Taekwondo Championships, punched her ticket into the quarter-finals after taking down Turkey’s Filliz Ogel 20-12.
“My first fight was a hard one. It always is. Your mind is nervous, and your body is really tense, but as soon as you get through that first one, the second one becomes easier,” said Yong. “I gave it my best today. I gave it my all and I have no regrets.”
Yong met her match in a hard-fought battle in the round of eight, facing a much taller and tougher fighter from China, Xueqin Tan, who towered at 6’2”. A back-and-forth battle, the speedy Yong’s quest for another spot on the World Championship podium came to an end, losing a 13-18 decision.
“That is the story of my life. I’m usually the shortest person in my weight division,” said Yong. “I can’t use the same techniques as those fighters with a longer reach. I have to use my capabilities, move around faster, explode faster and always try to be ahead of them.”
It was a strong day for Canada’s Yohan Chang in the men’s 58kg division. The Vaughan, Ont. resident, who will turn 18 next week, achieved his goals heading into his first World Championships as a senior after knocking off Damian Villa, of the United States, 25-19 in his opening match before edging out Serbia’s Dmitrij Nagajev 27-26 in the round of 32.
Chang faced a tough opponent in the second round from Argentina, Lucas Guzman. Exchanging points throughout the hard-fought affair, the Canadian teen was beaming with pride despite dropping an 18-22 decision when the dust finally settled in the round of 16.
“it was a very long day and I think throughout the day I took it one match at a time,” said Chang, who was relentless in his tactics while from behind on the scoreboard throughout his two rounds.
“Instead of focusing on the score, it was more about having fun and playing the game. I just kept thinking I could do it. I just wanted to be my best, facing the world’s best today. I definitely achieved what I came here to do.”
Nathalie Illiesco was the third Canadian to square off on the opening day of the prestigious taekwondo event at Manchester Arena. The experienced fighter in the women’s 73kg weight division battled hard against Taipei’s Ting Hsia Ma but dropped a 3-6 decision.
Yong, Chang and Illiesco are among 16 Canadian athletes who are competing for Canada at the 2019 World Championships. Next up for Canada on the mat Thursday will be Cedric Genest (Levis, Que.) – M54kg; Hervan Nkogho (Quebec City) – M68kg; and Jasmine Kermiche (Saint-Georges, Que.) – F73+
The team is supported by seven coaches including: Alain Bernier (Levis, Que.); Jae Park (Winnipeg) Carla Bacco (Burlington, Ont.); Paul Germain (Quebec City); Daniel Thornton (Abbotsford, B.C.); Young Su Choung (Mississauga, Ont.); Edward Fong (Richmond Hill, Ont.).
Complete details on the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships can be found at http://www.worldtaekwondo.org/competition/world-taekwondo-championships/championships-2019/information/
Taekwondo Canada is the National Sport Governing Body for Taekwondo in Canada. We are recognized by World Taekwondo, Pan American Taekwondo Union, and are members of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. Taekwondo Canada is supported by Sport Canada. Taekwondo Canada sends national teams to the Olympic Games, World Taekwondo Championships, Pan Am Taekwondo Championships, Pan Am Games, World Taekwondo Junior Championships, Poomsae World Championships, Pan Am Poomsae Championships, and is also targeting the 2020 Paralympic Games.
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