Taekwondo fighter, Ahmad Abughaush, has made Jordanian history at the Rio 2016 Olympics, winning a gold medal – Jordan’s first-ever Olympic medal since it joined the games in 1980. However, this champ’s history hails back to Palestine.
Placing first in the 68-kilogram category, he is also the first Taekwondo athlete in the Arab world to win gold, and only the third to win any medal.
The history of this young athlete has caused much intrigue – with his hailing from Palestine, and Israel even claiming rights over his heritage. However, the legacy of this champion is a simple, Palestinian one of dispossession and Israeli oppression
Abughaush started Taekwondo at a local training center in Amman, his skills qualifying him for inclusion in the national team. In 2010, he participated in the Taekwondo World Championship for juniors that was held in Sharm el-Sheikh, where he was the only Arab athlete to achieve a gold medal. He participated in a number of championships and was given the best Jordanian athlete award by the Jordan Olympic Committee.
Abugaush took a year off in 2013 after he had suffered a ruptured ligament, but soon returned to training and won gold medals in a number of international championships in 2014.
The 20-year-old who is the youngest competitor in his division in Rio, qualified to the final late Thursday after beating Spain’s 2012 London gold medalist, Joel Gonzalez 12-7.
During his progress in the games, Abu Ghoush beat world champion Daehoon Lee, according to the Rio Olympics’ official website. Earlier he beat the South Korean 11-8 after beating Egypt’s, Ghofran Ahmed, according to the Jordan Olympic Committee News Service.
He competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, defeating Alexey Denisenko from Russia, 10-6, fighting against the far taller opponent and opening the match with a head kick right on the first round buzzer to take a 3-0 lead.
Abughaush told the press “it’s an indescribable feeling to win the first medal in the history of Jordan in all the sports” and said “it’s also a great feeling to listen to the national anthem of Jordan being played in Rio in front of the whole world.”
However, for Palestinians, Abughaush’s victory was marred by claims from Israel that the athlete’s roots in the Jerusalem area are “Israeli,” and that his family “relocated” or “moved” to Jordan decades ago