Jade Jones, one of Britain’s strongest medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics, fell to a shock defeat in the first round against Kimia Alizadeh, the bronze medallist in Rio who represents the refugee Olympic Refugee Team.
Jones could still have gone for a bronze medal via the repechage had Alizadeh gone all the way to the final, but she fell at the semi-final stage. The 28-year-old Jones will now have to wait until Paris 2024 for a chance to become the first British woman to win three gold medals at three different Games.
Alizadeh won twice to advance to the quarter-finals in the 57-kilogram division. She beat Iranian opponent Nahid Kiyani Chandeh 18-9 in her opening bout before her massive upset of Jones.
Alizadeh is competing for the refugee team after defecting to Germany. She made the move in 2016 shortly after becoming the first Iranian women to win an Olympic medal, and it would be the first of any kind for the refugee team.
Alizadeh cited institutional sexism and the mandatory wearing of the hijab headscarf in her criticisms of the Iranian system, which she said had used her for propaganda purposes. Kiyani wore a headscarf in the bout against Alizadeh, who comfortably earned the victory.
Alizadeh then upset Jones with a stirring third-round performance. Their bout was tied 10-10 with just 30 seconds left, but Alizadeh scored a pair of two-point body kicks to take the lead before hanging on for the four-point victory.
She screamed and celebrated with her coach while the small crowd of Olympians and support personnel in the Makuhari Messe convention centre erupted with astonished roars at the biggest upset of the taekwondo tournament.
Additional reporting by AP
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