The Para-taekwondo demonstration competitions at the IWAS World Junior Games 2014 drew to a close today as the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to collaborating with IWAS – and all the IOSDs – to ensure that the fast-growing sport continues to develop in line with international best practices.
Para-taekwondo was included as a demonstration sport for the very first time at this year’s Games as part of the MOU signed between the WTF and the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) in March this year. Elite Para-taekwondo athletes joined 320 athletes from 31 countries across six sports (Archery, Athletics, Powerlifting, Swimming, Table Tennis and Wheelchair Fencing) at the Games, as they took part in demonstration competitions which showcased the dynamic and exciting sport. An open training session was also held where everyone was invited to come and try out the sport for the first time and be taught by some of the world’s best Para-athletes and coaches.
The WTF has developed a number of programmes to increase participation in Para-taekwondo – which is already practiced in over 50 countries worldwide – among its 206 MNAs. Speaking after Para-taekwondo’s demonstration at the IWAS World Junior Games, WTF President Chungwon Choue emphasised the importance of youth engagement:
“It has been a privilege for para-taekwondo to be a part of this year’s IWAS World Junior Games. Events like these are hugely important as they encourage youth participation and provide young people with a pathway into sport. Young people with impairments may not always feel that they have the same opportunities to engage in sport, but by participating in inspirational events like this, we want to show them that taekwondo is a fun and safe sport which is truly accessible to everyone.
“We are very grateful to be working so closely with IWAS and to be given the chance to learn from their expertise on how to best serve athletes – both young and old – with impairments. We share many of the same values and want to use sport to encourage acceptance, respect and friendship. We hope this will be the beginning of para-taekwondo’s participation in IWAS events and that one day para-taekwondo athletes may compete in the IWAS World Games.”
IWAS President Paul DePace added:
“It was a pleasure to welcome para-taekwondo as a demonstration sport at this year’s IWAS World Junior Games. We have been working closely with the WTF since we signed an MOU with them in March and we are very satisfied with how the sport is developing. Our vision at IWAS is to inspire worldwide achievements in sport and we have no doubt that para-taekwondo provides a wealth of opportunities for amputee and limb deficiency athletes around the world to do just that.”