Joel González Bonilla is Spain’s golden boy of taekwondo…
The 22-year-old Spanish martial artist beat South Korea’s Lee Dae-Hoon at the 2012 Olympic Games on Wednesday to claim the gold medal in the men’s under-58kg taekwondo final. It’s his first-ever Olympic title.
González, the reigning world champion, beat Lee—a world champion who’d moved down from the non-Olympic under-63kg category to compete at the London Games—in an action-packed final.
Even though Lee was on the attack more often in the match, González managed to block most of Lee’s kicks while productively counterattacking with head shots.
González struck first in the opening round, connecting with a three-point head kick to open up a 5-2 lead. The kick wasn’t originally scored but the Spaniard questioned the referee’s decision and was awarded the score after a video review.
“I thought it was clear that I touched him so I asked my coach to challenge it. It was then clear, they gave it to me and of course it was important to gain that advantage,” said “It goes without saying that it was very important and the three points meant I had a big advantage.” he said.
Lee closed the gap with two unanswered points until a flurry of late kicks in the second round saw González extend his lead to 8-4.
In the final round, a brutal axe-kick that connected with the Korean’s mouth and sent him crashing to the canvas proved to be the final nail in the Lee’s coffin.
Lee’s camp made a hopeful challenge, claiming a three-point head kick for him, but that was rejected and his lingering hopes of victory died.
González did get a scare by Sweden’s Uno Sanli (7-6) and Australia’s Safwan Khalil (5-3) in his first two rounds but easily overcame Colombia’s Oscar Munoz 13-4 in the semifinals.