Final preparation for Para-Taekwondo athletes. WT

The Para Taekwondo season is heating up with four events lined up in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Top athletes including Paralympic and world champions will be in action as they prepare for August's Paralympic Games in Paris.

The action started with the Pan Am Para Taekwondo Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 3 May with 63 athletes (27 female and 36 male) from 14 countries - including guest nations France and Japan - taking part.

Peru's reigning Paralympic champion Leonor Angelica Espinoza won gold in the women's -47kg class, beating 2023 Paris Grand Prix winner Claudia Romero of Mexico in the final. Reigning men's +80kg Evan Medell of the United States had to settle for bronze this time as home fighter Pedro Paulo Neves took gold.

Out of the nine K44 categories, six golds went to Brazil with Maria Eduarda Machado (women's -52kg) and Tokyo 2020 silver medallist Debora Menezes (women's +65kg) among the victors. France's Bopha Kong took the men's -63kg title with Costa Rica's Andres Molina securing men's -80kg gold.

This has been quickly followed by the Rio Para Taekwondo Open, also in Rio de Janeiro, on 5 May with 48 athletes from nine countries set to take part.

The focus will then move to Europe with the European Para Taekwondo Championships in Belgrade, Serbia from 9-12 May. The event, which will be held alongside the European Taekwondo Championships. will be contested by 89 athletes (38 females and 51 men) from over 20 countries including refugee teams and individual neutral athletes.

Türkiye's Ali Can Ozcan (-58kg) and Paralympic bronze medallist Mahmut Bozteke (-63kg) defend their titles with teammate Fatih Celik (-70 kg) hoping to upgrade his bronze from last year in Rotterdam. Also present will be Italy's men's -63kg world champion Antonino Bossolo, who beat Bozteke in the final in Veracruz last September, and Israel's world -58kg gold medallist Asaf Yasur.

The women's field also looks strong with the likes of Britain's reigning world champion Amy Truesdale (+65kg) and Beth Munro, who defends her European -65kg title, in Belgrade. World silver medallist Gamze Gurdal of Türkiye defends her European -57kg crown although Marija Micev is certain to have plenty of home support having lost out to Gurdal in last year's final in Rotterdam.

Israel's Asaf Yasur (blue) in action during the 2023 WT Grand Prix Finals in Manchester. WT
Israel's Asaf Yasur (blue) in action during the 2023 WT Grand Prix Finals in Manchester. WT

The ninth Asian Para Taekwondo Open Championships take place in Da Nang, Vietnam on 19 May with 118 athletes (37 female and 81 male) from more than 20 countries.

Uzbekistan's reigning Olympic champion women's +65kg champion Guljonoy Naimova - winner of last year's Taiyuan and Manchester Grand Prix - and her compatriot, men's -80kg world champion Asadbek Toshtemirov, are among the big names in attendance.

Mongolia's Asian Para Games champion Bolor-Erdene Ganbat bids for more success in the men's 63kg class with South Korea's men's -80kg Asian Para Games gold medallist Joo Jeong-hun set to renew rivalry with Iran's silver medallist from Hangzhou, Iran's Alireza Bakht.