August 11, 2012 / 10:10 PM / 7 years ago

Taekwondo: Serbia's Mandic wins women's heavyweight gold

LONDON (Reuters) - Serbian Milica Mandic won the taekwondo gold medal in the women’s heavyweight division at the London Games, beating Anne-Caroline Graffe of France in the final on Saturday.

Serbia's Milica Mandic (L) celebrates with her coach as her defeated opponent Anne-Caroline Graffe (front, L) of France is led away by her coach, after their women's +67kg gold medal taekwondo final at the ExCel venue during the London 2012 Olympic Games August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Staples

After a tight opening two rounds, Mandic opened up in the third and picked off world champion Graffe with quick kicks to the body, running out a 9-7 winner to earn Serbia their first gold medal of the Games.

Mandic said it was the sweetest moment of her life and the fact that it had earned Serbia their first gold in London was extra special.

“This is something that I wanted so much and I’ve worked really hard for it. It’s amazing, it’s the highlight of my life,” she told reporters.

“I just can’t believe it and I’m so proud I did it for my country.”

Graffe had looked the hot favorite to win gold after cruising through the early rounds and knocking out South Korea’s Lee In-jong in the second round.

However, she struggled to impose herself on the Serb and had to accept silver.

“I’m proud of my silver medal, although I was expecting to get gold,” added Graffe, who was born in Tahiti, French Polynesia.

“This means a lot to me because I’m the first Polynesian to represent France at the Olympics and it’s a good way to finish off my Olympics.”

Russia’s Anastasia Baryshnikova beat Korean Lee and Mexican Maria Espinoza edged Glenhis Hernandez to win the bronze medals following the repechage competition.

Lee’s failure to win a bronze left South Korea with only a gold and silver to take home from London. All four of Korea’s fighters had won gold medals at the Beijing Games.

Taekwondo is Korea’s traditional martial art.

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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