PATU Press – The Pan American Taekwondo Union will be represented by 51 competitors from nine countries in the Grand Prix Series II to be held from September 2 to 4 in Paris, France, a competition that awards 60 points to the World Taekwondo Olympic and World Ranking.
Athletes from Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic placed among the 32 best in the Olympic ranking in their different male and female divisions in August, eligibility criteria for this competition of global stature and high technical level to be held for the first time in the French capital, as a prelude to the Olympic Games in two years.
Olympic champions, world champions and rising stars of world taekwondo for a total of 256 athletes will compete in the tournament at the Palais des Sports Marcel-Cerdan in Levalloisen, the second of four Grand Prix of the year. The World Taekwondo refugee team will also be in action.
In the men’s -58kg, the PATU team is led by Brazil’s Paulo Melo and Mexico’s Brandon Plaza, both ranked in the top ten of the Olympic rankings. Other top names such as Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Luis Pie (DOM) will be present, along with U.S. representatives David Kim and Melvy Alvarez. Canada will have Braven Park and Nicholas Hoefling. Mexico with Cesar Rodriguez and Colombia with Jeferson Ochoa complete the list.
The -68kg will have four representatives from the continent with Olympic experience such as Bernardo Pie (DOM), Edival Pontes (BRA), Ignacio Morales (CHI) and the only male athlete from the Americas with a Grand Prix Final title, Carlos Navarro (MEX). Pontes comes from consolidating his position as champion and MVP of the America’s President’s Cup in Jacksonville, Florida. David Paz (COL), Gabriel Ramos (BRA), Hervan Nkogho Mengue (CAN) and Khalfani Harris (USA) complete the Pan American roster.
Two athletes in great sporting form, Pan American Games and Championships champions Carl Alan Nicholas (USA) and Miguel Angel Trejos (COL), along with Olympic athlete and world medalist Moises Hernandez (DOM), world runner-up Rene Lizarraga (MEX) and Canadian Jordan Steward make up the elite of America in the -80kg present in Paris.
Cuba’s Rafael Alba, Olympic bronze medalist at Tokyo 2020, leads the Pan American septet in the +80kg Grand Prix, which includes world ranking leader (-87kg) Ícaro Martins and his Brazil teammate Maicon Siqueira, continental champion Jonathan Healy (USA), Canadian Marc Andre Bergeron and international and regional multi medalists, Mexicans Carlos Sansores and Bryan Salazar.
In the women’s -49kg division, athletes Andrea Ramirez (COL) and Daniela Souza (MEX), both Pan American champions this year 2022 in Punta Cana, are registered. Ramirez has just won gold at the Bolivarian Games in Valledupar, while Souza was named Most Valuable Athlete at the President’s Cup of America in Florida, in addition to having won the bronze medal at the Grand Prix in Rome several weeks ago. Brazilians Talisca Reis and Valira Santos, as well as Yveth Yong of Canada, are also registered to compete in the tournament.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic -57kg champion Anastasija Zolotic (USA) is one of the rivals to be beaten by the Eurasian athletes at the top of the WT rankings at the Paris Grand Prix. A few weeks ago, in Rome, Zolotic won the bronze medal along with another representative of the continent of the highest level, Sylar Park (CAN). Mexico’s Fabiola Villegas climbed to 21st place in the ranking and earned the right to compete in her third Grand Prix. Makayla Greewood (USA) and Sandy Macedo (BRA) will also be looking for good positions in the competition.
Milena Titonelli and Caroline Santos, number 4 and 6 respectively in the Olympic ranking -67kg, Ashley Kraayevelt and Melissa Pagnotta, both from Canada, together with Leslie Soltero (MEX), compose the Pan American quintet of this division in French territory. Santos, number one in the -62kg division, missed out on a medal weeks ago in Rome.
Finally, in the +67kg, Crystal Weekes, who gave Puerto Rico the first medal in the history of the Grand Prix in Rome (silver), will be back in the combat octagon to seek new results. Other names such as the representatives of the United States Alena Viana and Madelyn Gorman-shore, the two-time Olympian Katherine Rodriguez (DOM), the Brazilian Gabriele Siqueira and the reigning continental champion Gloria Mosquera (COL), will animate the competition against athletes from Europe and Asia.