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The best taekwondo warriors competed at the European Games. Extraordinary stories of athletes who sacrificed everything for their beloved sport.

There were as many as four days of taekwondo competition at the European Games. They started with the lightest (but not the least impressive) weight categories. The best in Europe competed in the Krynica Arena. The taekwondo competitions are not only sporting duels. They are also the stories of many athletes who sacrificed everything for their beloved discipline.

We have 200 athletes from all over the world. 44 nations have registered for the European Games. We have a strong team from Poland. This is the biggest event before the Games in Paris, without a doubt. We have a media and organisational success. We are happy that we could organise this tournament,‘ said Jarosław Kowalewski, president of the Polish Olympic Taekwondo Association.

The young Parisian has stolen the hearts of fans

Thanks to the European Games, fans got to know Maysane Kamkasoumphou. She is a teenage Parisian for whom the competition in Krynica was an opportunity to showcase herself to the whole world for the first time in her career. Kamkasoumphou’s story is a bit unusual, because until now, Leyna her twin sister has competed alongside her. And although she was missing from the Games, Maysane was not alone. The Frenchwoman’s development is supervised by Ekvara Kamkasoumphou, the twins’ dad.

For me, it’s something amazing to be able to share a passion with my family. My mum and dad are supportive of me. We joke that one day my sister and I will compete for a gold medal. Our whole family lives sport. When we win, we win together, when we cry, the whole family cries,” said Kamkasoumphou.

Kamkasoumphou was not the only young athlete worth remembering. A beautiful story was written by Luana Marton from Hungary. The 17-year-old in the -57kg category won the right to participate in the final. There she came up against Jade Jones, the Olympic champion from London. She lost, but a silver medal in her first start at a senior event is a great achievement. Marton admitted that this is only the beginning and that she would only be satisfied with a gold medal at the Paris Games.

Bad luck for the Polish favourite

The Poles were slightly less fortunate. Karol Robak, the favourite for gold in the -87kg category, had to end the struggle on 1/16, as he suffered an injury. Fortunately for the Poles, he was avenged by Aleksandra Kowalczuk. The fighter from Poznan entered the final, after a dramatic duel with Bianca Coock. Two seconds before the end of the round, she was losing 1:4. Just as the end of the round was about to be announced, she kicked the British woman in the head.

I went like a tank, I didn’t think about anything. I was afraid that the kick wouldn’t be scored because time was running out,” she admitted.

In the final, she lost to Nafia Kus, although she did not fight any worse. It was the details and one successful action by the Turkish woman that decided.

Szymon Piatkowski can speak of bad luck. In the semi-final he lost to Richard Ordemann, a participant of the European Games in Baku. For the bronze he fought against Apostolos Telikostoglu.

Piatkowski won the first round. In the second he started scoring too late and the Greek enjoyed the win. The bronze medal was to be decided in the third game. Although he was in the lead, it was 4:4 seconds before the end. Then, quite unexpectedly, he was deducted three points.

The judges thought I was holding, I had a clenched fist at the time, so there was no question about it. I think the fight was at a high level. At the moment when it was 2:1 I was punching from my fist, it appeared on the counter 2:2, I added a leg to my stomach, for which I got two points. The judges took away my points for all the actions after the alleged foul,” explained Piatkowski.

Fans from all over Europe cheered on the Warriors

It is impossible not to mention the fans. UKS Arcus Krynica has been active in Krynica since 1985. The classes are led by Jarosław Jarząb, holder of the sixth dan, one of the most successful athletes in Poland. He and his students turned up at the competition to support the Poles and admire the best in Europe. There were also numerous delegations from Hungary and Croatia in the stands. When the representatives of these countries fought, the loud voice rang out: “ria ria Hungaria” and “Hrvatska”.

I didn’t expect so many fans from Croatia to come here. I had a great fight in front of them. I dedicate this medal to them as well. This is my first loss at the European Games. It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy to add gold to my collection at such a big event,” said Lena Stojković, who added the top spot on the podium at the European Games to her four gold medals at the World Championships.