LONDON (AFP) –
Serbia’s Milica Mandic beat Anne-Caroline Graffe of France 9-7 to win the women’s over-67kg taekwondo title on Saturday.
It was Serbia’s first gold medal of these Games and their first ever Olympic medal in taekwondo.
Twice European champion Anastasia Baryshnikova of Russia took the first bronze with a sudden-death, golden point victory over Lee In-Jong of South Korea.
Mexico’s Maria Espinoza may have surrendered her title from Beijing but she took the other bronze with a 4-2 win over Cuba’s Glenhis Hernandez.
Having won bronze at the World Championships last year and silver at the Europeans earlier this year, Mandic has now finally got her hands on a gold medal.
She had set out her stall in the quarter-finals, dethroning Espinoza by a score of 6-4.
She then avenged her European championship defeat to Baryshnikova in the semi-finals, dominating in an 11-3 success. The final was tight and she led 5-4 going into the final round.
Graffe tried to turn it around but Mandic, 20, kept beating her to the punch, and kick, to ensure she kept her nose ahead.
It was still a great success for world over-73kg champion Graffe, 26, from French Polynesia, who had initially been overlooked for the Olympics in favour of world under-73kg champion Gwladys Epangue.
Only four categories each for men and women are disputed at the Olympics rather than the eight in all other competitions.
However, Graffe was given a reprieve when injury forced Epangue out of the Games.
Lee’s failure to win a medal completed a miserable Games for Korea, the home of taekwondo.
Having claimed four gold medals from four athletes in Beijing four years ago, they have finished with just one gold and one silver in London, ending the medals table third behind Spain and China.