Taekwondo fighter makes Jordan's first Olympic medal gold

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Ahmad Abughaush, who is of Palestinian descent, produced series of upsets to make final

Abughaush, a 20-year-old student, was considered an outsider for a medal in Rio (Reuters)
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Saturday 20 August 2016 8:27 UTC
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Taekwondo fighter Ahmad Abughaush made history by winning Jordan’s first Olympic medal. It was gold.

But Abughaush’s victory was celebrated beyond the borders of Hashemite Kingdom. Abu Ghosh, his family’s hometown in Israel, erupted in joy at his feat.

Abughaush, a 20-year-old student, was considered an outsider for a medal in Rio after he was originally seeded 10th in the tournament.

Residents of the Israeli Arab town near Jerusalem hailed Abughaush’s Olympic success.

“This is a great honor for us,” Abu Ghosh resident Jawdat Ibrahim told Israel’s Channel 10. Ibrahim said town leaders will travel to Jordan to congratulate the Olympic champion in person.

Israeli media reported that Abughaush’s grandparents left Abu Ghosh “decades ago".

Jordanian King Abdullah II said he was “happy for the champion like the rest of Jordan,” Jordanian Arabic newspaper Alanbatnews reported.

"From the Oscars to the Olympics, a great year for #Jordan on the world stage! Congrats to Ahmad Abu Ghosh for the gold! #Rio2016 #Taekwondo," tweeted Jordan's Queen Rania. Theeb, a Jordanian movie, was nominated for best foreign language film at the Oscars last year.

Jordan first competed at the Olympics in 1980 in Moscow. The Middle Eastern country of more than seven million people has never sent more than 10 athletes to compete at a Games, with only eight in Brazil.

"It's an indescribable feeling to win the first medal in the history of Jordan in all the sports," Abughaush after the final match against Russian Alexey Denisenko.

"It's also a great feeling to listen to the national anthem of Jordan being played in Rio in front of the whole world."

Abughaush produced a series of upsets to make the final, taking out twice world champion Lee Dae-hoon in the quarterfinals and then gold-medal holder Joel Gonzalez in the final four.