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[Tokyo Olympics] Shocked taekwondo star rues another missed opportunity

Lee Dae-hoon of South Korea reacts to his loss to Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan in the round of 16 match in the men's 68kg taekwondo event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall A in Chiba, Japan, on Sunday. (Yonhap)
Lee Dae-hoon of South Korea reacts to his loss to Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan in the round of 16 match in the men's 68kg taekwondo event at the Tokyo Olympics at Makuhari Messe Hall A in Chiba, Japan, on Sunday. (Yonhap)
CHIBA -- The third time didn't prove to be the charm for Lee Dae-hoon, the South Korean taekwondo icon who was chasing his first gold in his third Olympic appearance Sunday.

That dream ended after the first match, as the top-seeded Lee lost to Ulugbek Rashitov of Uzbekistan 21-19 in the round of 16 at the men's 68kg event at Makuhari Messe Hall A in Chiba, east of Tokyo.

Rashitov scored his two "golden points" in the extra period, after the two finished three rounds of regulation knotted at 19-19.

Lee, 29, hinted afterward that this would be his last Olympics.

"I wanted to finish things off on a high note, but I think I ended up putting too much pressure on myself," Lee said. "I lost a match that I should have won easily."

Lee and other South Korean taekwondo practitioners haven't been competing much in recent months, with the coronavirus pandemic having wiped out many international events. Lee said he was getting ahead of himself too much and he didn't feel entirely comfortable even with an early 10-3 lead.

"I didn't do a great job of managing my match," Lee said. "When things were going well in the opening moments, I should have kept things steady. Instead, I experimented with some things and ended up giving up points. I was trying to regain control but it was too late."

The three-time world champion also has three Asian Games gold medals and two Asian championships. An Olympic gold is the only major prize missing in his glowing resume.

Lee won silver in the 58kg class in his first Olympics in 2012, and then bronze in the 68kg division in the next Olympics four years later. (Yonhap)

 

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