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Epangue and Isaev golden as Taekwondo wraps up

Gwladys Epangue
France's Gwladys Epangue became the first European Games champion in +67kg Taekwondo. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
Azerbaijan and Russia each win five Taekwondo medals

Gwladys Epangue of France and local hero Radik Isaev claimed the gold in the women's and men's heavyweight divisions as the Taekwondo competition wrapped up with two exciting finals at Crystal Hall on Friday.

Isaev and silver medallist Vladislav Larin brought Azerbaijan's and Russia's Taekwondo medal tallies to five each.

Epangue was up against London 2012 Olympic champion Milica Mandic of Serbia in the women's +67kg final. The experienced Frenchwoman, at 31 the oldest competitor in this weight class, took the lead 3-1 in the first round.

Mandic came back with a headkick in the second round, taking the lead 5-3. Epangue fought back in the third and last round, but Mandic scored as well. At 6-6 and with just seconds to go, Epangue scored three decisive points with a turning back kick and Mandic's last points didn't change the outcome, and the Frenchwoman won 9-8.

"History is what made me want to win today. It is the first European Games and I wanted to make history. The big names were here and it is great to win against them," said Epangue, who dedicated her victory to her friend Alexis Vastine, the boxer who was one of three French sports personalities killed in a helicopter crash in Argentina last March. "From now on, each time I win a medal, I will think of him," Epangue said.

Iva Rados of Croatia and Russia's Olga Ivanova earned the bronze medals. World champion Bianca Walkden of Great Britain dropped out in the quarter-finals.

The crowd erupted when Isaev came out. The bout started slowly with neither player scoring. The match remained close at 2-1 in favour of Isaev at the end of round two, and the finish was nail-biting. With 30 seconds to go, Larin drew level to 3-3, but in the final seconds a hit from the Russian was disallowed and he received a penalty that gave Isaev the decisive point to win 4-3.

"Now I have 40 qualification points for the Rio Olympics so this is a kind of a trampoline for me for the Olympics. I will keep training hard and getting ready for those Games," Isaev said.

"Although the Russian language is very rich, right now I have not yet found the words to describe what happened. I could have taken the gold and I was sure I would get it, but I got the silver," Larin said.

Vedran Golec earned the second bronze medal for Croatia this evening. The other men's bronze went to Daniel Ros Gomez of Spain.


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