Giselle Moreno wins gold in taekwondo world championship after a 2-year hiatus and the birth of her son

When the final buzzer blared, my arms shot up and tears cascaded down my cheeks… I locked eyes with my young son in the stands. His teary gaze met mine and his cheers offered an unspoken “I love you.”

  • 9 months ago
  • October 18, 2023
6 min read
Giselle Moreno stands with her gold medal at the World Taekwondo Championships | Photo courtesy Giselle Moreno Team Giselle Moreno stands with her gold medal at the World Taekwondo Championships | Photo courtesy Giselle Moreno Team
Giselle Moreno, nacida el 20 de diciembre de 1984 en Buenos Aires, es practicante de Taekwondo IV Dan. Debutó en el Campeonato Mundial de 2002 en Puerto Rico y desde entonces ha acumulado una serie de medallas: bronce en Rusia (2009), Corea del Norte (2011) y Bulgaria (2013); y plata en Bulgaria (2015). El 25 de agosto de 2023, Giselle se colgó la medalla de oro en la categoría de hasta 52 kg en el Campeonato del Mundo de Kazajstán, convirtiéndose en campeona del mundo.
El taekwondo fue reconocido formalmente como arte marcial en Corea en 1955, encabezado por el general Choi Hong Hi. Formando una junta especial que incluía a una mezcla de líderes sociales, Choi denominó “Taekwon-Do” al Arte Marcial Nacional de Corea, que fue refrendado oficialmente por el primer Presidente de la República de Corea, el Dr. Seung-man Rhee. El arte ganó atención internacional en 1959 y condujo a la formación de la Federación Internacional de Taekwon-Do (ITF) en 1966, con asociaciones de múltiples países, entre ellos Estados Unidos, Italia y Vietnam. Arraigado en la cultura moral oriental y aplicando los principios de la física, el Taekwon-Do sigue evolucionando, esforzándose por alcanzar la excelencia técnica y filosófica. El General Choi es el autor de la Enciclopedia del Taekwon-Do, que contiene reglas y prácticas exhaustivas. Hoy en día, los líderes de la ITF mantienen el legado evolutivo del arte. Para más detalles,visita ITF Official Website y ITF-TKD.

ASTANA, Kazakhstan — The arena’s atmosphere crackled with electricity as I stepped out onto the mat, my Argentine grit fueling every fiber of my movements. The air tasted tangy and gave off the sweet scent of imminent victory. It felt as if the universe itself whispered, “This is your moment.” My eyes locked on the podium knowing it was where was destined to be.

In the adrenaline-soaked whirlwind of the 2023 Taekwondo World Cup, I clinched gold in the up-to-52-kg division, finally realizing a dream that’s both an embodiment of and a testament to my passion, struggles, and aspirations. Every sensory detail – from the pulsing beat of my heart to the dripping sweat, from the roaring applause that filled my ears to the vibrant hues of the Argentinian flag – etched that surreal moment into my memory. “Can this be real,” I thought. I’m still pinching myself.

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Taekwondo became a burning ambition, competing meant everything

I kicked off my Taekwondo journey as an 11-year-old with a single, burning ambition to become a world champion. Every punch I threw and every kick I landed reverberated with the fire of that dream.

Five years later, at 16, the opportunity finally came knocking. “You have a shot at the world championships,” they told me. Without a second thought, I dialed up my training intensity. Sweat dripped from my body and my muscles ached, but my spirit soared.

Fast-forward two years, and there I was: an 18-year-old dynamo in Puerto Rico, competing in my inaugural world championship in 2002. As I lunged, jabbed, and spun, my fists and feet cut through the thick, humid air that clung to the skin like a second layer.

The Caribbean atmosphere was a pulsing, living entity, but it was no match for the electric charge of my ambition. Onward I fought, all the way to the quarterfinals, every strike resonating like a battle cry through that tropical setting.

Battling in the adult category: my golden prize remained elusive

Seven years later, in 2009, I returned to the global stage, this time in the adult category battling it out in the frosty Russian arena. I won the bronze trophy. Medals in Korea and Bulgaria followed in 2011 and 2013 to 2015, a carousel of bronze and silver. Yet, the golden prize remained elusive, always one agonizing step away.

In 2017, I embraced a life-changing role when I became a mother. The scent of baby lotion replaced the smell of the gym; the soft coos of my newborn son supplanted the resounding thuds of kicks and punches. Championships took a backseat, and for a time, the ring fell silent.

Fast-forward to 2019, when I donned my gear and stepped back onto that familiar mat, only to suffer a heart-wrenching first-round defeat. As I sat there, my heart plummeting like a stone into an abyss, I thought, “Is this the end of the road?”

Yet, the siren call of another world championship broke through my doubt. A single question lingered: “Why not try one last time?” Resolute, I boarded a plane to Kazakhstan, the roar of jet engines mixing with my racing thoughts.

Giselle fighting an opponent at the Kazakhstan Taekwondo World Championship | Photo Courtesy Giselle Moreno Team

Upon landing, the eruption of the crowd enveloped me. I was prepared to fight not just for myself, but for that persistent dream ignited in an 11-year-old girl so many years ago. The taste of anticipation filled my mouth, and the resounding claps and cheers washed over me like a tidal wave. My message to the world remained clear: I will fight until the last second and will champion that message until my final breath.

A journey to the finals: I thought, “This is it”

Luck sided with me in the opening round, and I dominated my match against Malaysia. Yet, the real crucible was the finals against Japan. Despite leading on the scoreboard, my opponent’s relentless attacks left me gasping, each move a drain on my dwindling reserves. Sweat trickled into my eyes; my muscles were a choir of agony.

With 30 seconds left, I was near the breaking point. That’s when the crowd’s countdown enveloped me like a lifeline: 10, 9, 8. “This is it,” I thought, my heart pounding in sync with their chant. When the final buzzer blared, my arms shot up and tears cascading down my cheeks: I did it! A lifetime dream fulfilled.

I locked eyes with my young son in the stands. His teary gaze met mine and his cheers offered an unspoken “I love you.” Beside him, my husband and coach Federico was all smiles as he stretched out his arms.

We spilled out of the ring in a frenzied dance of hugs, waving our flag and belting out, “Dale campeón!” As melodies from the 2023 Qatar Soccer World Cup filled the air, the arena transformed into a haven of unfiltered joy and raw emotion. It was, in that perfect moment, a festival of magic and victory.

The podium became an emotional ceremony, I’ve never experienced anything so profound

The climax of this emotional rollercoaster was the podium ceremony. “Want to join me up there,” I whispered to my son, whose eyes sparkled like stars at dusk. “Should we lift the trophy like Messi,” I asked. His grin stretched wide across his face, lighting up the moment.

Arm in arm, we climbed the podium, enveloped in the soul-stirring strains of the Argentine national anthem. Tears blurred our vision, yet in that moment, clarity struck. I’ve never experienced anything so profound.

Giselle Moreno and her son at the Kazakhstan Taekwondo World Championship | Photo Courtesy Giselle Moreno Team

Fulfilling this dream meant weaving together the threads of love and ambition into a tapestry too exquisite for words. It’s so surreal, that I still pinch myself in disbelief.

Every time I saw Messi triumphantly raise his arms and exclaim, “I’ve won the World Cup; I’ve done it,” I felt an inexplicable connection. Standing there, trophy in hand, I knew that I wasn’t just on top of the podium; I was on top of the world.

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