Learn more about this Summer Olympic sport

April 27, 2012

Iran's Hadi Saei (left) and Italy's Mauro Sarmiento (right) battle for the gold medal of their weight class at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.


The word ”taekwondo” translates into English as ”the way of foot and fist.” The sport originated in 50 B.C. with warriors in Korea. The sport made its debut at the 1988 Games in Seoul, South Korea. It was a demonstration sport until being officially added to the Olympic roster at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games.

Rules of the Games

The object of taekwondo is to land kicks and punches on your opponent’s scoring zones. One point is awarded for a valid kick or punch to the torso. Two points are awarded for a valid spinning kick. Four points are awarded for a turning kick to the head. The action takes place inside an 8m x 8m zone called a court. Each contest is made up of three rounds that are two minutes long. Competitors wear protective headgear and padding over a white uniform.

The eight taekwondo events at the Olympic Games are played in a knockout format. There are four weight classes each for men and women. The winners of each contest qualify for the next round. The last two challengers standing go head-to-head for the gold medal. The competitors who lose to finalists will compete for the bronze medal.


Click here to read about track and field at the Olympic Games.

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