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Martial arts gaining popularity following latest showing in Asian Games

By Muath Freij - Sep 21,2018 - Last updated at Sep 21,2018

Hamzah Qattan (3rd from left) posing for a group photo during the 18th Asian Games held recently in Indonesia (Photo courtesy of Jordan Olympic Committee)

AMMAN — When Hamzah Qattan was young, he decided to buck a trend of participating in team sports and follow his family’s passion — taekwondo.  

The 21-year-old Qattan started practicing taekwondo in 2005. His decision proved fruitful; this year he clinched the bronze medal during the 18th Asian Sports held in Indonesia.  

“I chose taekwondo because of my father, as he used to be a former [taekwondo] athlete in the past. I used to play football at school but I was interested in taekwondo,” he told The Jordan Times in a recent interview. 

Qattan was among 35 athletes that represented Jordan at the 2018 Asian Sports. Jordan won two gold medals (in taekwondo and ju-jitsu), one silver medal in taekwondo and nine bronze medals (in taekwondo, ju-jitsu, karate and boxing). 

These achievements reflected how successful Jordan has been in individual sports rather than team sports. 

Recently, their Majesties King Abdullah and Queen Rania, received athletes who achieved distinguished results at the 2018 Asian Games. 

It was considered Jordan’s most successful Asian sports since its inception in 1986, according to a Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC) statement sent to The Jordan Times. 

Qattan cited choosing taekwondo because individual efforts are obvious and appreciated in such sports, compared with team sports. 

“It is an individual sport so whatever achievement you do, you get highlighted and the role of the coach can be very obvious compared with team sports,” he added. 

Faris Assaf, Jordan’s taekwondo coach echoed Qattan’s sentiment. 

“When there is an achievement in a team sport, there would be no special light shaded on a specific player. It goes all to the whole team,” he added. 

Qattan said investments in individual sports are usually easier and more successful than in team sports. 

“When you look after three or four players you can sense that these players have unique elements so they will be able to achieve something,” he added.  


More interest in individual sports


Naser Majali, secretary general of JOC, said the interest towards individual sports, including taekwondo has been on the rise since Ahmad Abu Ghoush won his gold medal at the Olympics.    

“When Abu Ghoush won the gold medal, a total of 50,000 taekwondo clothes were sold during three months. Usually this number is not achieved in one year, so this highlights the great interest in this sport,” he told The Jordan Times in an interview. 

He noted that many clubs have opened to serve the new taekwondo enthusiasts following the surge in popularity.

“Great achievements encourage families to enroll their children in individual sports. However, we also do encourage families to register their families in sports in general,  because for me the child has to play either a competitive or non-competitive game and he has the right to train the sport he wishes,” he added.  

 Qattan agreed, adding that following Abu Ghoush’s gold medal, the number of clubs have been on the rise and athletes who hold taekwondo black belts has increased.  

Assaf said he believed that the successful accomplishments of the Asian tournament will trigger more interest in individual sports. 

“Now the halls are full house during competitions that are held in Amman. For example, in the past Al Hassan Competition, around 8,000 audience members attended the competition and this reflects on the growing interest towards individual sports,” he added.  

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