The Australian Olympic Committee has announced the four-strong Taekwondo Team for Tokyo, with Stacey Hymer (-57kg), Reba Stewart (+67kg), Safwan Khalil (-58kg) and Jack Marton (-80kg) to represent Australia.
Khalil becomes the first Australian male Taekwondo athlete to compete at three Olympics, with Hymer, Stewart and Marton making their Olympic debuts.
The four fighters secured quota places for Australia by winning their division at the Oceania Olympic Qualification Event in February 2020.
The team boasts a wealth of international experience, with Khalil finishing top eight in both his Olympic campaigns, Marton top eight at the 2019 World Championships and all four athletes earning multiple international Open medals throughout their career.
Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo Ian Chesterman welcomed today’s selection.
“Congratulations to Jack, Reba, Safwan and Stacey on today’s announcement,” Mr Chesterman said. “It takes a village to raise an Olympian, and today is celebration not just for these four athletes but the families, coaches, friends and supporters who have been there every step of the way.”
“It’s been a long time since securing those quotas for Australia last year to today’s announcement and these athletes have shown resilience and determination to ensure they will be at their best in Tokyo.
“Thank you to Australian Taekwondo for helping athletes go from the first time having a go to being ready to compete on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”
Stewart, the youngest on the Taekwondo team, was thrilled to be selected for Tokyo.
“I am so honoured to be representing my sport and our country in the green and gold,” Stewart said. “If I was told six years ago, as a fresh black belt in taekwondo, I was going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games as a fighter, I couldn’t have even imagined it.”
“This amazing opportunity has put into perspective the hard work and sacrifices that I have made towards achieving my goal, proving that anything is achievable when you set your mind to it and stay focused.”
28-year-old Marton was honoured to be able to follow in the footsteps of his Olympian family members.
”Words can't express how it feels to make the Olympic team—honestly, I am filled with so much emotion,” Marton said.
“This has been a dream since I was a teenager and to finally get here feels surreal. For years, I have watched both of my sisters, Carmen and Caroline, participating at the Olympics in taekwondo and to now be part of that family legacy means the world to me.”
CEO of Australian Taekwondo and dual Olympian Heather Garriock said she was proud of the four selections.
“Firstly, a huge congratulations to all who took part in the qualification process, you all drove our exceptional standards and ensured that our 2021 Olympians earned the honour of representing you and our country in Tokyo,” Garriock said.
“Congratulations Jack, Reba and Stacey on being selected to represent Australia for the first time at an Olympic Games. The pride you must feel is something you have earned through all those hours and years of hard work and sacrifice. I trust you will share the honour with your loved ones who have equally made the same sacrifice.
“To Safwan, you have represented our sport over the last decade with great distinction. To make an Olympics for a third consecutive time is an achievement that you and we as a sport are extremely proud of. I wish our athletes the best of luck as they represent our wonderful sport and our wonderful country at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad.”
The team features three Victorians in Hymer (Notorious Martial Arts), Stewart (Halls Taekwondo) and Marton (Melbourne Taekwondo Centre) with Khalil based in Sydney (Global Martial Arts).
There is an appeal by a non-nominated athlete in the -57kg division, that process is being followed.
The Taekwondo competition will run from 24-27 July at the Makuhari Messe Hall.