Ivorian Taekwondo competitor Ruth Gbagbi will be making her second Olympics appearance. She also competed in the 2012 London Games but lost both her matches. She is 22 and competes in the 67-kilogram division. Mamina Koné and Cheick Cissé are the other two Ivorian taekwondo competitors at this year’s games. It will be their first Olympic experience.
Since Taekwondo became an Olympic sport in 2000, only three Africans have won medals in the event. All three of the taekwondo athletes from Ivory Coast won medals in recent African competitions. The director of the Ivory Coast team says the three athletes are on the same level as the best in the world.
The competitors say they are setting an example for the next generation of Ivorian athletes. Moussa Berthé is 13. He has been doing taekwondo for five years. He says he learned “discipline, respect, dignity and wisdom” from his teachers. Berthé will be watching the national team compete in Rio.
“They are examples to follow because they are champions, and they come from Ivory Coast so it encourages us to continue taekwondo,” he said.
The taekwondo competition begins in Rio on August 17.