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Fighting for Recognition in a Football Country

Summer Games 12 July 2015



GWANGJU In Portugal where football is king, taekwondo is barely on the radar. Yet the country is home to the world number 2-ranked taekwondo practitioner for his weight division Rui Braganca. When Braganca won the inaugural 2015 European Championships the win helped to boost the sport’s profile in the football mad country.

“I think Taekwondo is a really good sport for the viewers and it is getting really good with video replay and it is easier to understand why it is a point or why not and explaining how the sport works,” said Braganca.

At the Universiade Braganca, who’s studying medicine at the University of do Minho, captured the silver medal in the 58kg weight division. While taekwondo still has a long way to go before it reaches the same level of austerity as football in Portugal Braganca hopes by winning competitions like the Universiade it will help increase the popularity of the sport in his home country.

So how does one become involved in taekwondo and not football in Portugal? For Braganca it happened quite by accident. “My parents went to a gym that was close to our house and they started to do some fitness, my sister started taking some dancing classes and my father told me you won’t be the only one at home.” Kickboxing was too advanced and he was too young to weight lifting so taekwondo it was.

Braganca has watched the sport undergo significant changes with new technology. Including the addition of electronic vests. “It’s a lot more technical and tactical, before it was more of a fighting sport now it’s still a contact sport but before you would have to hit harder… to score points you would have to make a sound, now you can just tap the vest and score the points, it’s more fair because now the referee is put aside. Now technology decides.”

Braganca is working to accumulate as many points as possible at other upcoming international events in the hopes of qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics. “I hope to go to Rio but it’s still a long way to go as qualification ends in December.”


Megan McPhaden (CAN), FISU Young Reporter