"I feel mentally and physically ready for the upcoming Championships"
Mr. Yasin Tokdogan earned a Silver medal at this year's 4th European Para-Taekwondo Championships. He will be competing for Turkey in the K44 M -75 kg division at the 6th WTF World Para-Taekwondo Championships Samsun.
How did you feel when you heard that para-taekwondo will be included at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games?
Tokdogan: We have all been dreaming of Paralympics since 2009 and I felt extremely excited when I heard we will be competing in Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. It is great to even dream about it and I cannot imagine how it is going to feel fighting there.
What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s World Championships?
Tokdogan: As always, I am hoping to stand at the top and I believe that I have been training hard enough to grab the gold medal. To be honest, I am quite aware of the fact that it is going to be really tough as para-taekwondo keeps improving and knowing that makes me feel more enthusiastic about winning till there is no one else left to beat!
How have you prepared yourself for this year’s World Championships?
Tokdogan: I trained with my club team and trainer since the last European Championships and now we are at the National Team Camp training with our Coaches and teammates. I feel mentally and physically ready for the upcoming Championships.
What impact do you think the introduction of world rankings has had on the sport?
Tokdogan: I remember quite clearly that I shared my opinions about the possibility of world ranking system to improve para-taekwondo in Moscow, Russia during a meeting held in 2014. I think, it is always very important to make big changes to be able to get success and with the ranking system, para-taekwondo achieved a great deal both in terms of the sport itself and the world’s point of view towards para-taekwondo.
What do you love most about the sport?
Tokdogan: Apart from being a national team elite athlete, the thing I love the most about para-taekwondo is that its giving possibility to people with impairments to participate in a martial art. Because –in my personal opinion- for people with disabilities, martial arts always seem like “extreme sports” for it takes a lot physical ability to be able to perform.
Is there anything you would change about the sport?
Tokdogan: All I could say is the Olympic weight divisions. Because, in our national para-taekwondo championships, many athletes are eliminated just because they do not fit the division they fight in or they do not have a better alternative for themselves. I think, if Olympic weight divisions come back, the MNAs could bring many more athletes for International Events.
What advice would you give to young people out there with impairments who are thinking about taking up para-taekwondo?
Tokdogan: I started taekwondo after seeing a one-handed kick-boxer knocking out his opponent with no disability. It always made me feel that I have no inability compared to the others and so I started feeling like I have a greater place in the world. I could say “Don't think about the achievements that this sport could provide for you; just go and give it a try.”