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Olympic Watch - Taekwondo: U.S. Wins Taekwondo Gold

Dateline: 28 September 2000

Just a day after Kay Poe's heartbreaking defeat, American Steven Lopez takes home the gold medal.

Lopez Triumphant

Just a day after Kay Poe's heartbreaking loss in the taekwondo women's 49 kg division, Steven Lopez of the United States won the gold medal match in the men's 68 kg division.

Lopez, together with his brothers Jean and Mark, is no stranger to major competitions, with experience on the U.S. national team in 1994 and 1996. His win in Sydney marks the United States' first gold medal in taekwondo as a full medal sport. (In previous Olympics, star fighters like Dana Hee and Herb Perez won gold medals, but as taekwondo's status was a demonstration event at the time, those wins are not considered in official tallies.)

Lopez's opponent, silver medallist Sin Jun-sik, was primed to bring home the gold for his country's national sport. Sin's scored early in the first round with a fast kick to the head. Lopez was held scoreless for most of the match until he fired a back kick with one minute remaining, scoring to the midsection. Because of Sin's penalties, his point was deducted, and Lopez emerged victorious.

Iranian fighter Hadi Saeibonehkohal won the bronze.

Historic Win for Vietnam

The taekwondo tournament also made history as the sport of Vietnam's first Olympic medal. Although Hieu Ngan Tran lost in the women's 57kg finals to South Korea's Jae-eun Jung, her silver medal is Vietnam's highest standing in that country's Olympic history. Turkey's Hamide Bikcin won the bronze.

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