China's taekwondo star to defend Olympic title

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Wu Jingyu in action during the semifinal of Beijing Olympics.

Beijing Olympic champion Wu Jingyu will strive to become the first defending champion in wome's lightest class when the taekwondo competition kick off on Wednesday in London at the Olympic Games while South Korea will look to repeat their feat four years ago.

Wu, also twice world champion, will start her title defence in -49kg category on the opening day of the taekwondo competition, and was one of the two favorites which includes her long-time rival Yang Shu Chun from Chinese Taipei.

Monday's draw put top seed Wu in the top half and she could meet Sanaa Atabrour of Morocco, bronze medalist at last year's world championship, in the semifinal.

"Wu once lost to Atabrour before, by a big margin," said Cao Tao, deputy secretary general of Chinese Taekwondo Association.

"The result is decided not only by your ability but your opponent's performance. All we do now is to train well, pay attention to every detail we can think of and then see what will happen," said Cao.

Hou Yuzhuo, another medal hopeful for the Chinese team, will try her luck in the -57kg in her Olympic debut. Liu Xiaobo, in men's over 80kg, came back to redeem his early elimination in Beijing.

As China put their goal at bagging one gold medal, South Korea is aiming at winning the maximum four titles, again.

They brought their Beijing winners Hwang Kyung Seon in women's -67kg and Cha Dongmin in men's over 80kg to London. Up-and-coming star Lee Dae Hoon, 20, will compete in men's -58kg while 30-year-old veteran Lee In Jong was in for women's over 67kg.

In the -80kg, Steven Lopez of the United States will compete in his fourth Olympic Games looking to add to his medal haul of gold in 2000 and 2004 and bronze in 2008.

2008 Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Stevenson of Britain and twice Olympic silver medallist Alexandros Nikolaidis of Greece are competing in their fourth Olympic Games in London.

In total, 128 athletes from 63 NOCs are competing in the eight Olympic weight categories. The weight categories for women are -49kg, -57kg, -67kg and +67kg. The weight categories for men are -58kg, -68kg, -80kg and +80kg.

An NOC can qualify the maximum of two women and two men for Olympic competition. Sixteen competitors qualified for each weight class through world and continental qualifying tournaments.

Six NOCs earned the maximum of four entries: Egypt, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, the United States and, as the hosts, Britain.

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