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Jesús Tortosa, young taekwondo promise to lead the national team with 21 years | sports

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"Going back from the World Cup without a medal would be hard", says Jesús Tortosa. The Spanish taekwondista has gone from being the young promise of the national team to becoming its leader. And that is 21 years old. He went to the 2016 Rio Games with 18; He came back with an Olympic diploma. That day there was no one who could give him comfort. In the last World Cups, those that were played in Korea in 2017, was the only medal (bronze) of the Spanish expedition. As of this Wednesday, in Manchester, he will fight for a metal in the category of -58 kilos. He continues with his guitar lessons, he has moved to the CAR (High Performance Center) in Madrid and has changed the Economics and Finance degree from INEF (Physical Activity and Sports Sciences). "Being in the CAR I could not go to class and I had to choose something else. I tried with Right and it was not my thing … I am in first of INEF and I have approved everything so far this year ", says a few days before flying to Manchester for the World Cup (May 15-19).

He returned to the box of exit in terms of studies, but not in taekwondo. That young promise that broke into the tapestry of the absolute in 2015 has now become the reference. It is the second of ranking world and Olympic and the only Spanish who would be qualified for the Tokyo Games right now. Does the responsibility weigh? "I have no pressure, it is a world championship and everything that has been done and that has been in my hand I have done. I have to capture it there, "he answers sitting in the CAR taekwondo pavilion. A priori, in the pools on the Manchester World Cup, his medal is the only sure of the Spanish expedition.

Not yet 22 years old, he claims to have become a man. Far is that kid who came to Rio through the pre-Olympic in which you play all or nothing. "Three years have passed, I have matured as a person and as an athlete. Before, I was an 18-year-old kid who was coming to the Olympic Games for the first time and who had competed at an absolute level for two years. Now I have much more experience, combats and titles and that gives more confidence in oneself, "he explains. "I have improved especially on a mental level, I take competitions differently, more calmly. I have become more man and on a physical level it shows: I have grown and I have taken more muscle and with it more resistance and speed, "he adds. His technicians have always highlighted his ambition and being a sponge when it comes to learning.

Miguel Ángel Herranz, the coach who took the team after the Rio Games, says that what he has seen the most to improve Jesus is to soften that ambition. "He has learned that in a long race there must be ups and downs from time to time. We are working on that and on knowing how to overcome any setbacks that may occur in a championship, "he explains. He has known him since his time as a cadet. "I see him more and more sure of himself, he is number two of the ranking Olympic and World Cup behind a legend of world taekwondo (Tae-hun Kim). Jesus is in a position to do great things, "he adds. And you can do them starting this Wednesday (eliminatory starting at 9.30, final bronze from 19.00, final gold, Thursday 16 at 19.30).

Jesús Tortosa, during a training in the CAR before the World Cup in Manchester.
Jesús Tortosa, during a training in the CAR before the World Cup in Manchester.

To this World Cup, the competition that scores the most for the Olympic event, Tortosa comes with the only concern to get a medal. Unlike his colleagues, who also struggle to reach the fifth place in the ranking Olympic, the last one that qualifies directly for the Games, he already has it practically insured. "This World Cup is decisive for the rest of the team because it gives 50% of the points and is what will define the rest of the year. It has nothing to do to face a world championship thinking about doing your job well and trying to get the title to compete thinking that the Olympic Games depend a bit on this championship. In that sense I go more calm thanks to the results of all these years, "he analyzes.

New scoring system

The preparation for this World Cup was designed at the beginning of the year, it was decided to make a tour to accumulate as many points as possible to be well positioned in the ranking and thus avoid the seeds in the draw. "Achieved that we did eight weeks of specific training here at CAR. We focus on the electronic system, the blocks, the new scoring system that makes the matches more physical, "says Tortosa.

The regulation usually changes between some Games and others and, every year in addition, some modification is introduced. "The one of now is another taekwondo, completely different from the one that was seen in Rio, for example. The size of the carpet has been reduced: instead of going out with a whole foot, now that you step on it once you are out you are already eliminated. In the melee, where before nothing was left, now it is allowed to have combat and there is a lot of pushing and grabbing. The fists have taken an incredible importance, in 2016 you saw that one or two throw them, now they all throw them because they give one point per fist. The spins have also increased score, one more point ",

The Spanish expedition, which returned with a single metal from the 2017 World Cups, added five medals to Europeans last year. "A World Cup is never comparable to a European, but it is the athletes themselves and their rise in both the ranking Olympic as in the world has been fulminant. We have a team that has become aware of the capabilities it has and in this World Cup we are going to show it ", concludes the coach.

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