Khalil kick-starts Rio campaign with victory

Published 18 August 2016 (AEDT)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 17: Safwan Khalil of Australia competes agains Si Mohamed Ketbi of Belgium during the Taekwondo Men's -58kg Round One contest on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Cairoca Arena 3 on August 18, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

TAEKWONDO: Safwan Khalil has moved through to the men's 58kg quarter-finals after a convincing first fight victory at Carioca Arena 2.

Khalil’s experience showed against a fighter 12 years his junior, Belgian Si Mohamed Ketbi, as the dual Olympian patiently waited for his moment before breaking down the 18-year-old.

In front of plenty of Aussie support in the stands, the fight went scoreless in the first round before the Sydneysider got going to eventually win 8-1.

“It was tough but the crowd got me through though,” Khaili said.

“The first fight is usually one of the toughest ones; it’s good to get the crap out now and regather for the next one.”

That next fight will be against another 18-year-old in Thailand’s Tawin Hanprab, who caused the upset of the opening round by defeating second-seeded Korean Taeshun Kim.

“He’s a young, hungry little fighter," Khalil said.

“We just have to try and control him as much as we can and play my game out there.”

It was a cautious first round with both fighters waiting for their chance as Khalil let the Belgian come at him and waited to counter.

After some inspiring words from his coach and brother Ali, Khalil waited for his moment and struck with a perfectly timed head kick in the second round to give him a 3-0 lead heading into the final two-minute round.

“I had to be patient out there. We needed to get him kicking sloppy as he is usually really sharp.

“We needed to get him tired and then pick him off to the face.”

And pick him off Safwan did.

As Ketbi went on the attack in the third Khalil secured a point with a punch to the body to take it to 4-0.

He then killed the fight off with another kick to the head on the counter before both fighters received a penalty point for it to finish 8-1.

Khalil will face Hanprab at 4:15pm Wednesday August 17 (5:15am Thursday August 18 AEST).

Matt Bartolo

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