"There is so much respect and kindness in taekwondo outside the court. And at the same time I love how raw it gets on court."
Ms. Lisa Gjessing will represent Denmark in the K44 F -58 kg division at the 6th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships Samsun.
WTF has interviewed Ms. Gjessing, that is the current World and European Champion, in the lead up to the Championships.
How did you feel when you heard that para-taekwondo will be included at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?
Gjessing: I was so happy when I heard that para-taekwondo was included in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. I actually still remember where I was when I heard the news. And for days I was happy without knowing why – and I realised that it was because of the inclusion as a Paralympic sport.
You are the current World and European Champion, how have you prepared yourself for this year’s World Championships and who do you see as your biggest competition?
Gjessing: I have kept in shape since European Championships in April and now we (coach Bjarne Johansen and I) have increased the training during the last month. My biggest competitor is for sure Aynur Memmedova from Azerbaijan. We have had many good fights at all the championships I have competed in.
What impact do you think the introduction of world rankings has had on the sport?
Gjessing: I think that it is important to have the rankings in order to lift the sport to the next level of a Paralympic sport – and this way to keep athletes joining all the important championships and competitions around the world. I hope the rankings also will be used at the championships for seeding* of the competitors.
(*Yes, the top four (4) athletes in each class and weight division will be seeded)
What do you love most about the sport?
Gjessing: I love how taekwondo is an all around sport that feeds your body and your mind at the same time. And I love how para-taekwondo gives people with a disability great opportunities to fight equally.
Is there anything you would change about the sport?
Gjessing: In the beginning I would rather have had the head kicks to be part of the sport, but not anymore. I think it is the best way how it is right now and I wouldn’t change a thing.
What advice would you give to young people out there with impairments who are thinking about taking up para-taekwondo?
Gjessing: To get started as soon as possible. You can train anywhere and in every club because the sport is amazing in how it can be planned just for the one person. I only train with people without disabilities, and it works out great. They are so great at helping with pads guards and everything. There is so much respect and kindness in taekwondo outside the court. And at the same time I love how raw it gets on court.