CJ Nickolas became the first American man to win a world taekwondo championships medal since 2009, taking silver in the 80kg division in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday.
Nickolas, 21, beat Olympic bronze medalist Seif Eissa of Egypt in the semifinals, then dropped the final to Italian Simone Alessio, the world’s top-ranked man in the division. Nickolas is ranked third in the world at 80kg.
Nickolas moved up to the senior ranks after taking silver at the 2018 World Junior Championships in the 68kg division. He lost in the round of 32 at the last two worlds in 2019 and 2022, but did take bronze at a Grand Prix last September in the 2024 Olympic host city of Paris.
At the Tokyo Games, the U.S. had zero male taekwondo athletes at an Olympics for the first time since it debuted as a medal sport in 2000.
Anastasija Zolotic took gold for the U.S. women in Tokyo but is not at worlds after February right hip surgery. She is back in training.
Makayla Greenwood is the 2022 World champion at the non-Olympic 53kg, which is the weight just below Zolotic’s 57kg. Greenwood, who is due to compete at worlds on Sunday, must move up to 57kg or down to 49kg for an Olympic pursuit.
A nation can enter no more than one athlete per division at the Olympics.
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