The Ivorian taekwondo is one of the chances of medals for Africa at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021. Gold medalist in 2016 in the under 80kg category, Cheick Sallah Junior Cissé will be highly anticipated.
Côte d'Ivoire dominates world taekwondo in the -80kg (men) and -62kg (women) categories. These landmarks are the result of a long process that began in 2009. In 2012, the country hosted the Francophone World Cup. This was followed by the World Team Championship in 2013, and in 2017 by the Grand Prix Final and the second World Cup. The gold and bronze medals of Cheick Sallah Junior Cissé and Marie Christelle Ruth Gbagbi are therefore the result of this good organization of Ivorian taekwondo.
Côte d'Ivoire finished fourth at the last African Championships held from 5 to 6 June in Dakar. The Elephants had collected 11 medals (3 gold, 4 silver and 4 bronze). Tunisia (4 gold, 2 bronze), Morocco (3 gold, 6 silver, 4 bronze) and Egypt (3 gold, 5 silver, 6 bronze) did better.
Cheick Cissé for the double
Qualified for the Olympic Games, Cheick Sallah Junior Cissé (-80 kg), Ruth Gbabgi (-67 kg) and Aminata Charlène Traoré (+73 kg) won gold in their category. While Seydou Gbané (+80 kg) won the bronze medal.
He is the hope of a whole country and a continent. Cheick Sallah Junior Cissé will want to keep his Olympic title in the under 80 kg category. He begins the defense of his title this Monday 26 July against the Moroccan Achraf Mahboubi (20 years), in the round of 16.
Triple African champion in 2014, 2016 and 2021, the 27-year-old fencer is one of the main medal chances of Ivorian taekwondo, ranked 5th at the 2016 Olympics. But he will have to be wary of the young Moroccan, 2019 African champion in the 74 kg category. In 2019, he finished second at the African Championships in the under 74 kg category. Cheick Cissé will have at heart to go to the end of this competition and enter a little more in the history of this discipline.
Ruth, gold in sight
Bronze medalist in 2016, Ruth Gbabgi (-67 kg) is looking for gold in Japan. Recently African champion of the category in Dakar, Ruth (37) will meet in the 8th final the Congolese Naomi Katoka (21) who has only one African title, won at the African Youth Games in 2014.
Apart from Cheick Cissé and Ruth Gbabgi, there is Aminata Charlène Traoré, 2021 African champion of the +67kg. She will face the South Korean Lee Da-Bin, 2019 world champion. Aminata Traoré has the experience of major events. She has never been off the podium (world and African) since 2017. She remains a serious contender even if she is discovering the Olympic Games.
Finally, there is Seydou Gbané who will fight in the +80 kg category. The 29-year-old Ivorian inherits, in the round of 16, the 2016 Olympic runner-up and 2017 world champion, Abdoulrazak Issoufa Alfaga from Nigeria. Gbané has a slim chance of making it through.
However, it should be noted that the four Ivorian fencers at the Japanese games have the qualities to mark the history of Ivorian taekwondo, the second sport discipline after football. Today, there are more than 350 clubs in the country with nearly 50,000 members.
Ivory Coast's Fixtures
Monday 26th July 2021
- 67 kg women
Naomi Katoka (DRC) - Ruth Gbagbi (CI)
- 80 kg men
Cheick Cissé (CI) - Achraf Mahboubi (MAR)
Tuesday 27 July 2021
+67 kg women
Lee Da-Bin (South Korea) - Aminata Charlène Traoré (CI)
+80 kg men
Seydou Gbané (CI) - Issoufou Alfaga (Niger)