By Paul Osborne
China proved the dominant force on the final day of action at the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) US Open Championships as they wrapped up three of the eight gold medals on offer in Orlando.
Hua Zhang got the ball rolling for the Chinese as she secured gold in the women’s under 62 kilogram final, beating Canadian hopeful Ashley Kraayeveld with a 15-3 points gap in the final.
The pair had recorded comfortable victories over local favourite Samantha Leidel and Brazil’s Júlia Vasconcelos in the semi-finals to book their places in the all-important gold medal match-up, and it was Zhang who proved a level above her opponent as she locked away gold in the coolest of fashions.
Yunfei Guo doubled China’s gold medal tally in the women’s under 67kg contest as she recorded an edgy victory against Paige McPherson of the United States in the final.
Just two points separated the two athletes come the final bell with Guo running out the 5-3 victor.
Bronze medals went to Sweden’s Elin Johansson and Canada’s Melissa Pagnotta following their semi-final exits.
Shuai Zhao completed the golden hat trick for China when he thrashed Great Britain’s Jordan Constantine-Gayle 14-2 in the men’s under 63kg final.
The high-scoring Zhao had been on top form throughout the contest, securing 17, 30 and 19 points in his opening three bouts.
It was not all that surprising then, when he hit double figures again in the final, breaking though the Briton’s sturdy defence to land his attacks.
Siddhartha Bhat added more medal success for Canada as he earned bronze in this category, with Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Mamayev claiming the other.
There could have been a fourth winner’s title with a Chinese name on it had it not been for the superb performance of Poland’s Aleksandra Kowalczuk in the women’s over 73kg category.
She is renowned for her incredible defensive work and proved once again to be a tough target to hit as she relinquished just a single point in her 5-1 defeat of China’s Donghua Li.
Wherever there was a Chinese medallist, a Canadian was never far away in Orlando.
This theory tested correct once again in this category with Madeline Power picking up bronze alongside local favourite Danielle Harrison.
Elsewhere at the event, held at the Orange County Convention Centre, gold medals were awarded to Reshmie Oogink of The Netherlands for her victory in the women’s under 73kg, Brazil’s Venilton Teixeira in the men’s under 54kg, Taiwan’s Cheng-Ching Huang in the men’s under 58kg and Spain’s Jose Antonio Rosillo in the men’s under 68kg.
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