MOSCOW, August 13. /TASS/. The opening stage of the 2015 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series, to be held in Moscow on August 14-16, brings together up to 250 top male and female fighters in the Russian capital to begin sorting out ‘the best of the best’ for next year’s Olympics.
The 2015 World Taekwondo Grand Prix Series consists of a total of four competitions at different venues worldwide and are held as the qualifying tournament for the fighters to earn their spots at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro next August.
After the opening Grand Prix in Moscow, the subsequent stages of the taekwondo world series, also known as the "Road to Rio," are scheduled to take place in Turkey’s Samsun on September 18-20, Great Britain’s Manchester on October 16-18, and Mexico’s Mexico City on December 3-4.
Vadim Ivanov, the head coach of the Russian national taekwondo team, said the Grand Prix in Moscow would give the chance to the Russian fighters to improve their world standings and earn as much as possible spots for the Games in Brazil next year.
"These stages of the Grand Prix series are seen as equal comparing with continental tournaments and give the athletes, who took part in the competition, a lot of ranking scores," Ivanov said speaking on Thursday at a news conference hosted by TASS.
"Our [Russian taekwondo] leaders Alexei Denisenko, Albert Gaun, Anastasia Baryshnikova and Olga Ivanova earlier set the task to enter the [world’s] top six and Grand Prix series give them a perfect opportunity to achieve their goal," Ivanov said.
The three-day Grand Prix taekwondo competition in the Russian capital brings together a total of 245 fighters from 52 countries, including nine male and 11 female Olympic medalists, while 50 international referees will be officiating at the event.
The best taekwondo fighters from around the globe will be competing in eight Olympic weight categories, which comprise four female and four male categories, namely: the men's under-58 kg, men's under-68 kg, men's under-80 kg and men's over-80 kg; women's under-49 kg, women's under-57 kg, women's under-67 kg and women's over-67 kg. The maximum number of fighters allowed to be registered per weight category is 32.
According to the official website of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) "The top 31 athletes per Olympic weight category, based on their July 2015 WTF Olympic rankings, are invited, while one athlete from host Russia is additionally invited."
The Moscow competition will be held at the Dinamo Stadium in the northwest of the Russian capital, where three octagonal-shaped courts were set up/ The semifinal and final encounters will be held at the center court of the arena.
According to the WTF’s website, "Together with medals, cash prizes will be given to the top four athletes in each weight categories: $5,000 for the gold medalist; $3,000 for the silver medalists; and $1,000 for the two bronze medal winners."
Speaking two days ahead of the taekwondo tournament in the capital of Russia, WTF President Chungwon Choue said he hoped all elite fighters would display their best skills at the championship in Moscow.
"I expect the Moscow Grand Prix Series 1 will serve as an opportunity for the top elite athletes to display their skills," the WTF president was quoted as saying at a news conference in downtown Moscow on Wednesday night. "Also I hope all invited athletes will come and enjoy the thrilling moments of competition and friendship in Moscow."
Almost a year ago the sport of taekwondo saw the signing of a milestone agreement in China.
A breakthrough deal was inked in China on August 25, 2014 between two governing taekwondo organizations allowing ITF athletes to compete in the Summer Olympic Games.
The agreement was signed between the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) led by IOC Member Ung Chang of North Korea and the Seoul-based World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) in attendance of President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach.
This agreement creates the framework for closer cooperation between the IOC-recgonized WTF and the ITF.
Following the signing of the breakthrough agreement, Bach called the deal "a historic step for taekwondo - it is a kind of family reunion."