Serbia's Mandic takes Tokyo gold 8 years after London victory

Milica Mandic
Milica Mandic

Serbia's Milica Mandic ended South Korea's run of Olympic gold medals in taekwondo on Tuesday, defeating Lee Da-Bin in the women's heavyweight class final to repeat her victory in the 2012 London Games.

South Korea, where the combat sport originated, had won at least one taekwondo gold at every Summer Games since the sport became a full medal Olympic event in 2000.

"I was ready for it," Mandic said.

"Rio (in 2016) was very hard for me - I wanted it so much but did not get the result," she said, referring to her early knockout from the tournament. "This time I had years to qualify and the dream came true."

South Korea's Lee was not the favorite to win the women's +67kg category, but looked in great shape as she unexpectedly worked her way through the matches, reviving Team South Korea's hopes for gold.

Lee beat Britain's Bianca Walkden in the semi-finals, turning the tables with a last-second head-kick to dash the world champion's dreams of finishing top of the Olympic podium. Walkden took the bronze.

"There was no pressure," Lee said of the nation's gold-medal streak hanging on her result.

"I thought I should do my best no matter who I fight. I always go for victory and although I did not win in the final, with all my skills and techniques, I think I had one of my best performances so I feel good about it."

Apart from Lee's silver, South Korea took two bronze medals.

The four-day tournament was even more disappointing for China, which, like South Korea, fielded the most athletes at six but took home one bronze.