African ParaTaekwondo Open: Aatif from Morocco hoping for success after 2016 final disappointment

Morocco’s Mohammed Aatif will be hoping to put the pain of losing in the final of last year’s African Para Taekwondo Open behind him as he aims to win gold at the second edition of the competition later this month.

The event, due to be held at the Amahoro Indoor Stadium in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, is set to take place between March 31 and April 2.

Aatif will enter as Africa’s top-ranked athlete in the men’s under-75 kilograms K44 division.

The double Moroccan champion in 2015 and 2017 won a silver medal in last year’s inaugural African Open in Port Said in Egypt.

He lost to Iran’s Mahdi Pourrahnamaahmad in the final.

Although Pourrahnamaahmad will not compete in Kigali, Aatif still expects a high level of competition.

“I want Rwanda to be a good omen for me,” Aatif said in an interview on the International Paralympic Committee website.

“I think the Iranians are the biggest threat for me as they have a different and wonderful way of developing the performance of their athletes.

“I’ll be on the lookout for them, but my paramount goal is to teach them a lesson they will never forget.”

The fourth edition of the International Gorilla Open Championship has been rescheduled to avoid a clash with the second Africa Para-Taekwondo Open.

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) requested the move as it was thought holding the competitions simultaneously would damage their quality.

The fourth Gorilla International Open was set to take place between March 31 and April 2 but will now run between October 6 and 8.

Although Aatif is focused on success in Kigali later this month, his attention is also on the next Paralympic Games, where the sport will make its debut.

“Of course my goal is to qualify for the Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020 to represent my country and defend my stripes,” Aatif said.

“But I am a person that hopes to bring joy and pleasure to other disabled people.

“Taekwondo teaches honesty, hard work, mutual respect – even of your opponent, maintaining a healthy body free of drugs and cigarettes, team spirit, keeping a clear mind, and helping others.

“It’s a good group of qualities.”

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