Time to fight for taekwondo tickets to Rio 2016

It’s truly now or never for Canada’s top taekwondo athletes. They are in Aguascalientes, Mexico this week for the Pan Am Olympic qualification tournament, their last chance to earn a spot on the mat at Rio 2016.

The tournament is being held over two days (March 10-11) and the two finalists in each weight class will earn Olympic berths. Canada has entered the maximum two women and two men, who are certainly a formidable group.

Sitting 15th in the world, Yvette Yong is the top-ranked competitor in the 49kg division. Behind her is Peru’s Lizbeth Canseco, who is 27th in the world. Yong made it to a bronze medal bout at the 2015 Pan Am Games but finished fifth overall.

Yvette Yong

Yvette Yong competes in the quarterfinals at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games.

Melissa Pagnotta is number two in the Pan American region in the 67kg division. At number 17 in the world, she sits one spot ahead of Colombia’s Katherine Dumar. American Paige McPherson leads the way at 10th in the world. Pagnotta won a silver medal at the 2015 Grand Prix event in Moscow.

On the men’s side, Maxime Potvin is ranked 12th in the world, which makes him number one in the region in the 68kg weight class. Behind him is 26th-ranked Luis Colon of Puerto Rico. Potvin won silver at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto.

Maxime Potvin of Quebec City was the silver medalist in Taekwondo finals at the Pan American Games in Mississauga, Monday, July 20, 2015.

Maxime Potvin was a silver medalist in taekwondo at the Pan American Games on  July 20, 2015.

Marc-André Bergeron will compete in the heaviest weight class, +80kg, in which he is ranked second in Pan America and 17th in the world, putting him two spots ahead of American Stephen Lambdin but behind 12th-ranked Rafael Castillo of Cuba. Bergeron won a bronze medal at Toronto 2015.

Marc-André Bergeron won TO2015 bronze in the men's +80kg division on July 22.

Marc-André Bergeron won TO2015 bronze in the men’s +80kg division on July 22, 2015.

Canada has won two Olympic taekwondo medals since the sport’s official debut at Sydney 2000. Dominique Bosshart won bronze at those first Games before Karine Sergerie captured silver at Beijing 2008.