BEIJING (Reuters) - Cha Dong-min captured South Korea’s fourth taekwondo gold medal at the Beijing Olympics by defeating Greece’s Alexandros Nikolaidis 5-4 in the final of the men’s +80-kg on Saturday.
In contrast to the passivity of many of the tournament’s matches, the two fighters opened on the offensive, landing a number of scoring kicks in the first two-minute period.
Carrying a 3-2 lead into the second stanza, Cha extended the lead by a point with a chest kick, in between dodging a number of flashing attacks from the rangy 201-cm Greek.
Sensing the gold medal slipping away, Athens silver medalist Nikolaidis upped the ante in the third and final period, his long legs finding their target twice to level the score at 4-4.
Unbowed, Cha returned his own fire-power, scoring on a kick with 30 seconds left, then withstanding a fierce assault from the Nikolaidis to make sure of the result.
The win gave South Korea a clean sweep of golds for its four taekwondo-jin in Beijing, and emphatically reinforced the east Asian nation’s dominance over its traditional sport.
In a bizarre conclusion to the bronze-medal match, Arman Chilmanov of Kazakhstan was declared the winner after Angel Valodia Matos of Cuba was disqualified for kicking the referee in the head during an injury time-out.
Chika Yagazie Chukwumerije of Nigeria defeated Akmal Irgashev of Uzbekistan to win the other bronze medal decider.
Editing by Steve Ginsburg