Triumphant Afghan taekwondo athletes arrive home
21 October 2009 - The delegation of Afghan taekwondo athletes who won a silver and bronze medal for Afghanistan in the recent World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark arrived in Kabul today.
A total of 929 athletes from 142 countries competed in the championships – the most widely attended world championship event ever of the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF).
“My silver medal is for my people and my country. I am proud that I kept the Afghan flag raised all through until the end of the games,” said athlete Mahmood Haidary who said he will go for the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics to be held in London.
The bronze medal was won by athlete Hussain Rezai.
A few months ago, Mahmood Haidary won a gold medal when he beat taekwondo athletes from America, China, Jordan, Korea and the Philippines in the Korean Taekwondo Championship Games.
“I love Taekwondo! I will join the club as soon as I am four,” exclaimed a three-year-old Afghan boy who was accompanying his father to greet Mahmood Haidary at the airport today.
“I am very proud of our sons; Mahmood Haidary showed the world that Afghans have talents if they are given the chance,” said Ms Aziza, a school teacher in Kabul.
Three other Afghan athletes have done the country proud in the field of taekwondo – Nisar Ahmad Bahawi, Shafiqa Kargar and Rohullah Nikpai.
Bahawi won the gold medal in the fist Asian Martial Arts Games in August this year in Bangkok where Afghanistan won a total of five medals, with a bronze medal won by a young Afghan girl, Shafiqa Kargar.
Earlier in 2007, Bahawi also won a gold medal at the World Championships in Beijing, beating rivals from Russia, America, Kuwait, China, Lebanon and Iran.
On the other hand, Nikpai won Afghanistan its first-ever Olympic medal in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Taekwondo is one of Afghanistan’s most popular sports with more than 35,000 competitors across the country.
By Jamil Danish, UNAMA