While the second edition of the European President´s Cup was taking place, Mr. Sakis Pragalos had the opportunity to talk with us about almost everything; the 1st World Taekwondo Beach Championships, the ETU General Assembly, his vision of Dr. Choue´s leadership, changes in the rules, ETU and WTF future, among other things.
The 1st World Taekwondo Beach Championships will be held very soon. What can you tell us about this new competition?
The 1st World Taekwondo Beach Championships is a brand-new initiative, characterized by a fresh point of view, a re-oriented scope of positioning and innovation. It was indeed a big challenge to take over the organization of this event, making it one of the most unique taekwondo events of the year. That is why Europe is also taking the relay of this initiative by organizing the 1st European Taekwondo Beach in the Larnaca, Cyprus the upcoming October.
ETU will hold its General Assembly in June. What are the main issues to be discussed in that meeting?
There have been made giant steps towards the development of taekwondo in Europe. Just by presenting the milestones of development through all this time, the main points of the GA are covered. Yet, undoubtedly, there is always room for more. We need to make further steps in numerous sectors, always by sustaining and preserving all we have acquired up to now. ETU showed an exemplary continental development by establishing strong and secured collaborations and partnerships, like the ones with EBU and Daedo International, also preserved the dynamic of the sport in Europe and attained the largest number of medals in Rio 2016.
The WTF will hold the elections almost at the same time as ETU. How do you evaluate Dr. Choue’s work as president of the World Taekwondo Federation?
The Taekwondo Family is very lucky to have a leader like Dr. Chungwon Choue behind its wheel. I would not like to use the term “evaluate” towards his work. I think that all taekwondo reaps his harvest of development and unity right now. He is a man that never closed the door to the needs of the sport, to new suggestions and he was always willing to collaborate with us and let us contribute in our own way to this progress. He managed to keep the taekwondo family united, clean from substances and most importantly he spread the horizon of the sport through the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, sharing the vision of a taekwondo that cares for people and the society. The least we can do is to support his leadership.
What do you expect for the next period in the WTF?
The perseverance of all our partnerships and collaborations is among our priorities. Open to new ideas, there is always the quest of new concepts and the search to widen up the educational spectrum of the sport, while maintaining the optimal collaboration with the continental unions and WTF. The dynamic of the sport in Europe is surprisingly prominent and this is something to take into account into our future steps.
What are your plans to continue improving Taekwondo in ETU?
ETU’s primacy in innovation could be strengthened by developing the social media, marketing communication and foremost the data statistics of the sport. The sport of taekwondo had never been an early adopter at new approaches; that is why it can leverage its values in a way that it preserves its identity, yet it can obtain a new scope and mission within the upcoming generations. The contemporary society operates in a global-oriented scope and that is how the elite of our athletes must be recognized and promoted. Also, the evolvement of taekwondo events is such that requires a substantial financial investment in order to maintain the quality level already achieved. Finally, the development of the administrative nerve of ETU and the dissemination of duties to strategically develop certain sections is of paramount importance to consider as well.
Do you think changes in the competition rules help improving Taekwondo?
A better TKD for whom? For the athletes? The coaches? The media? The audience? Every time WTF proceeds into a change, all the aspects around the sport have to be considered, and a balance must be maintained between them. The challenge is that Taekwondo needs to preserve its philosophy, while it maneuvers in the demands of time. I am certain that every change happens to the benefit of all, which seems to be confirmed according to the feedback received up to now.
Mr. Pragalos, thank you so much for the time you spent with us. Would you like to send a message to the Taekwondo Family?
I will send a cordial thank you to the European taekwondo family for their trust, and to all the people that we strive together to move our sport forward; in the end, the capstone of all these efforts is to receive the love and support of your friends and your close ones. We will continue our mission in unity, always dedicated to taekwondo.
Alex Korram and Claudio Aranda, Exclusive MasTKD