Essential Olympics: Your guide to the sport of taekwondo

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Four years ago in London the eight Olympic taekwondo gold medals went to eight different nations, with Jade Jones collecting one for Great Britain.

There will be eight golds up for grabs again in Rio, with men and women competing separately at four different weight classes – flyweight, featherweight, welterweight and heavyweight. Athletes from 64 nations will be attempting to top the podium.

The rules

Athletes compete over three two-minute rounds, with the intention being to land as many kicks or blows to specific target areas of an opponent.

Victory is achieved through a variety of means – by knockout, scoring the most points by the end of the bout, if one of the competitors is disqualified or if one athlete is 12 points ahead of the other by the end of the second round.

All athletes in each weight class are placed into a single qualifying bracket, with winners of each bout progressing to the next round. The winners from each half of the draw meet in the gold-medal match.

Point scoring

Athletes wear a padded protector around their chests (a Hogu) and a blow to this will secure one point, assuming two of the four ringside judges declare this as a successful strike.

Turning kicks to the Hogu are rewarded with three points, alongside kicks to the head. The maximum of four points are registered if a spinning kick to the head is landed.

Athletes are able to block with their hands or their arms.

Modernisation in 2016

In a move designed to increase taekwondo’s appeal to a younger audience and with the sport certain to remain on the Olympic schedule until at least 2020, certain changes have been made to the 2016 product.

Rather than the standard 8x8m taekwondo square, fights will now take place on an octagon mat in a bid to improve the accuracy of scoring by reducing the blind spots of judges.

In London four years ago, the Hogu was equipped with sensors to help the judges identify a scoring shot. These sensors will also be fitted to headwear in Rio.

Meanwhile, to boost entertainment, athletes will walk to the octagon mat to the sound of their own entrance music and their standard white robes will be replaced by coloured pants representing the look of their national flags.

Ladbrokes is not an official sponsor of the Olympics and is no way affiliated with any of the competing athletes, events or competitions being held in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

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Craig Kemp

Craig has written for Ladbrokes since the 2010 World Cup, having previously gained a Media & Sports Journalism degree and contributed to publications including the Racing Post. His main areas of interest are horse racing and UFC, but he is also an avid X Factor gambler and likes nothing more than indulging in a spot of Hip Hop Karaoke.