Thursday, August 21, 2008
The reason why Jordanians love Thai-Kowa-what?
I always find it hard to spell Taekwondo in English. It's much easier in Korean... 태권도 (thanks wikipedia). I'll be very honest with you and tell you that I've never watched a match from its beginning to its end. However just being Jordanian makes me somewhat connected to this game, and I have a very good reason to feel so.
I remember first hearing about the game when I was nine years old in 1988 during the Olympic Games in Seoul. It was announced on Jordan TV (which used to be the only way to get news) that Jordan had won the first medal in its Olympic history. It was bronze and the sport was Taekwondo, and if I'm not mistaken it was Ihsan Abu Shaikhah who won it (Batir feel free to correct me). A few days later Samer Kamal won another bronze for Jordan, also in Taekwondo.
In 1992, Ammar Fahed Subihi won a bronze for Jordan in the Barcelona Olympics. Those three medals were not counted because the sport was not considered "an official sport", so officially we do not have any "official" medal although we have a three well-earned ones. Screw official games.
During these years Jordanian athletes were taken very seriously in this sport. Probably the biggest achievement was Mohammed Al Zoubi becoming the world champion in his weight in 1991 in the World Cup. We also won four bronze medals in that championship. Again: World Champion. How often does a Jordanian become the World Champion, really the best of the best in anything? You should feel proud of someone doing so even if it was in dancing over boiled eggs or playing 7 Hjaar (a sport also called baseball in the US). So when it comes to a respected sport like taekwondo you know we've done something amazing. The only other Jordanian athlete to ever top the world was Mustafa Hasanain in amateur bodybuilding championships, and some depressed guy.
Following that Tawfiq Nwaiser became Asia's Champion, and for the past 15 years or so Jordan has almost completely disappeared from the world stage in a sport we used to be highly respected at.
In 2 days Nadeen Dawani is playing in the preliminary rounds against a tough British player as our only Taekwondo player and the only Jordanian left competing in Beijing. Our media had already predicted her loss by saying how tough it would be to defeat that Brit. I really have some hope in this sport that I don't enjoy watching or playing or spelling its name but definitely love for the good results its athletes have brought to our country. To me, it has become more than just a sport.
(Feel free to join our facebook group "Jordanian Olympians In Beijing 2008").