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Teenage Aucklander Robyn Cheong qualified for the Olympic Games taekwondo quarter-finals before bowing to the tournament co-favourite and Korean compatriot.
The Korea-born 19-year-old beat Ivory Coast's Mariam Bah in the qualifying round, 1-0, but lost 1-4 to South Korea's Lim Sujeong in the 57kg quarter-final despite a valiant effort.
Cheong scored two points, once from an offensive kick and once from a defensive manoeuvre, but she lost one point through a deduction penalty.
Lim - who turned 22 yesterday - notched four points from defensive kicks and another from an offensive, but also suffered a point deduction.
Cheong, who has lived in New Zealand for 12 years, was expecting Lim to be a tough opponent, but had been confident she could win. "Of course I was aiming to beat her, it just wasn't my day. She was really calm and I wasn't. I was too excited. I tried to run up to her but she counter-attacked."
Now Cheong is out on a Lim, she hopes the Korean will get the gold medal. "It's the country I was born in. If she wins I will be very happy, because she will have the chance to win gold and I will be in the repechage.''
Cheong had expected her morning match with 32-year-old Bah, an Athens Olympics quarter-finalist, to be "more high-pointed''. But she said it was her first Olympic fight and she was nervous "and wasn't warmed up properly''.
She was pleased for her coach Jin Keun Oh that she had been able to make the Olympic quarter-finals.
"He's been my coach since I was a kid. I was seven when I came to New Zealand and he coached me then and I'm 19 now. It's always been a dream of mine to come to the Olympics and it's finally come true. He kept saying 'you can do it, this is our dream'.''
BROKEN ARM DOESN'T HOLD KIWI BACK
Even a recently broken arm was not going to stop New Zealander Logan Campbell from taking to the mat today in the men's under-68kg class.
Not when his first match was against reigning world champion Yu-Chi Sung, of Taiwan, who was making his Olympic debut.
Campbell had his arm broken seven weeks ago by a Senegalese opponent in Europe.
He said the left-arm break had healed quickly and caused him no problems in today's compet ition.
He started well in the three-round bout, keeping Sung scoreless until well into the second round.
But Sung's superior speed and technique were always going to pressure Campbell, who conceded two points to trail 0-2 going into the final round.
Sung upped the tempo to score twice more in the final minutes for a 4-0 points win as Campbell's lack of international experience began to show. Campbell, 22, was philosophical about the loss afterwards.
"It was a tough competition - he's the current lightweight world champion," he said.
"It was a hard draw straight off but if you want to be the champion you've got to beat the champion. I just couldn't do it today."
Campbell said he had not been intimidated by Sung's reputation, and felt the main difference between them was experience.
"He's been in heaps of competitions. He's heading towards the end of his career and I'm just starting mine.
"It's the national sport of Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) and the only one they've ever won an Olympic gold medal in. It's a bit like being an All Black, I suppose."
The Aucklander can still progress to the bronze medal playoff through a repechage if Sung progresses to the final.
- with NZPA
- © Fairfax NZ News