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Olympic Watch - Taekwondo: Poe Loses in First Round

Dateline: 27 September 2000

Kay Poe, the Cinderella of the taekwondo world, lost in the first round of competition..

Cinderella Story

The U.S. Olympic finals in May ended in tears of hope, as Esther Kim gave up her spot on the Olympic team to her best friend, Kay Poe.

Kim had fought hard to reach the final bout of the tournament--the winner would earn a berth on the Olympic team. But in that bout, she would have to defeat her "tae kwon do sister" Poe, ranked number one in the world in the 49kg division, but hobbled by a knee injury in the previous bout.

Rather than fight Poe, or even accept a default, preferring to win the right to fight at the Olympics on her own merits, Kim bowed out of the final match. Her sacrifice relinquished her spot on the team to Poe. The gesture of friendship and honor struck a chord around the world, and all eyes were on Poe as she entered the ring in Sydney.

Early Lead Crushed by Dane's Comeback

In the first round of taekwondo matches at the 2000 Olympics, Poe started out aggressively, leading Hanne Hoegh Poulsen of Denmark 3-1 through the first two rounds. However, in the third round, Poe changed her strategy, adopting a more defensive approach. Poulsen quickly made up the gap, outscoring Poe 4-0 in those final three minutes. With a point deducted from a penalty, Poulsen won the match 4-3 at the final buzzer.

Kim was in attendance, having been sponsored for her trip to Sydney by IOC president Juan Samaranch. Along with her father Jin Won Kim, who also coaches Poe, the three followed the action from the stands, with Kim shouting encouragement to her friend.

Poe would have had a chance to fight for the bronze medal in the repechage (second chance) round if Poulsen made it to the medal rounds, but Poulsen was defeated by eventual gold medal winner Lauren Burns of Australia. Cuban Urbia Melendez won the silver medal while Taiwan's Chi Shu-ju took the bronze.

Afterward, the two consoled each other, again in tears, but this time tinged with a bit of sadness.

Greece's Mouroutsos Wins Men's 58kg Division

In the men's 58kg division, the all-European final had Michail Mouroutsos of Greece beating Spain's Gabriel Esparza for the gold medal. Taiwan's Huang Chih-Hsiung took the bronze.

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