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Choue Chung-won earns fourth term as global taekwondo chief

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

PUEBLA, Mexico, July 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korean sports administrator Choue Chung-won on Sunday earned a fourth term as the international taekwondo chief.

At its general assembly here in Mexico, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) retained Choue as its president for another four-year term. No election was held as Choue was the sole candidate for the position.

The 65-year-old first took over as the WTF head in 2004, when then president Kim Un-yong stepped down with one year left on his term. Choue was re-elected in 2005 and again in 2009.

Choue had earlier faced the prospect of going up against a second South Korean candidate, Rep. Hong Moon-jong of the ruling Saenuri Party. The lawmaker, however, withdrew his candidacy earlier this month, paving the way for Choue to stay uncontested as the WTF head.

Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art and the WTF is headquartered in South Korea. The organization has never had two South Korean candidates go toe-to-toe for the president's post.

During his tenure, Choue has been credited with bringing positive changes to help shed taekwondo's image as a tedious sport.

Ahead of the 2012 London Olympics, the WTF adopted the use of electronic protective vests and socks for scoring, along with instant video replay. These moves drew favorable reviews for the most part and eliminated judging disputes, ultimately helping taekwondo remain as one of 25 "core sports" in the Olympics.

The point scale also changed in London from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with fighters earning a maximum four points for a turning kick to the head, compared to a maximum two points for a kick to the head in Beijing.

The new scoring system left the competition wide open and led to some high-scoring bouts and come-from-behind victories, the likes of which hadn't been seen in earlier Olympics. Taekwondo became an Olympic medal sport at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

In a sign of international parity, eight gold medals in London were won by athletes from eight different countries, including South Korea, Turkey, Italy and Serbia. It was a significant departure from just four years earlier, when South Korea snapped up four gold medals.

Choue is one of two South Korean heads of an international sport governing body, along with Park Sang-ha, president of the International Soft Tennis Federation.

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