Khalil closes taekwondo chapter

Published 18 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Safwan Khalil of Australia reacts after being defeated by Taehun Kim (not pictured) of Korea in a Taekwondo Men's -58kg Repechage contest during Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 3 on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

TAEKWONDO: Australian Safwan Khalil's Rio 2016 campaign has come to an end after he bowed out in his repechage fight against second seeded Taehun Kim of Korea.

Needing to win the fight to move through to the fight for bronze, Khalil went down 4-0 to one of the gold medal favourites for the -58kg division to finish the competition in seventh.

“He is been boiling all day because he lost in the first round to the same Thai boy that I did and he was fired up,” Khalil said.

“He just gave me nothing and it was really hard to find my rhythm and find my tempo against him as he was just all over the place. What can you do?”

Having won his opening fight against Si Mohamed Ketbi of Belgium, the 30-year-old Sydney-sider fell to Thailand’s Tawin Hanprab in the quarter-finals.

With Hanprab moving through to the final it gave Khalil the chance to fight through the repechage but he was unable to progress through the fight and get to the bronze medal fight as he did in London.

“It killed me (the close loss to Hanprab) – if the Thai boy had beat me 10-0 I would have been happy to have got another chance.

“But being in the lead against him and then letting him in with that stupid spin, which I’ve honestly worked time and time again in training, and every time I let it slip my brother (and coach) Ali just hits me with a cane.

“Walking off the court I was just shattered.”  

For his third straight fight today the opening round against Kim finished scoreless as both fighters started cautiously.

It was just past the midway point before Kim secured a kick to the face of Khalil to give him a three point lead before a kick to the mid-section extended the Korean’s lead to four in the final round.

In typical Khalil style the Aussie didn’t die wondering and went on the attack in the final stages but it was to no avail.

While many athletes will take some time off following an Olympic campaign to decide just what they will do moving forward – not Khalil though.

“I’m done, I’m 30-years-old and I want to start a family” he said contently.

“After London and getting so close we decided we wanted to go around again especially considering we were still winning medals on the world stage.

“This time around Carmen (Marton – Khalil’s teammate and fiancé) and I spoke before this campaign and said no matter what happens we have to be happy with what we have done and just move on. This is now the end of a very long era.”

Now that his second campaign has now wrapped up he is looking forward to cheering on his teammates and getting home to indulge in some of the finer things he has had to give up throughout his career.

“I am going to eat for about a week straight as I’ve been dieting for this weight division for the past ten years.  

“I want woodfire pizza and Carmen will order a nice mushroom pasta which I’ll eat most of as well and then a nice cheesecake. Then we will go to the shops on the way home and buy all the munchies and watch TV until we fall asleep in a food coma.”

The next Australian taekwondo athlete to compete will be Caroline Marton on Thursday, before sister Carmen and Hayder Shkara compete on Friday.

Matt Bartolo

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