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Bianca Walkden, Daehoon Lee named Player of Year at 2017 WT Gala AwardsKorea wins Best Member National Association of the Year

Dae-hoon Lee of Korea and Bianca Walkden of Great Britain were named the Best Male and Female Athlete of the year.

The World Taekwondo(WT) fourth annual Gala Awards was held in Abidjan’s Radisson Blue Hotel on December 4.

2017 Player of the year awards went to Dae-hoon Lee and Bianca Walkden.

The Male Athlete of the Year, Dae-hoon Lee says on the podium.

In 2017, Lee won three out of four Grand Prix titles, including the Moscow 2017 WT Grand Prix Series 1, Rabat 2017 WT Grand Prix Series 2, and this Grand Prix final. He also won a gold at the World Championships, scoring 162 points. He could not attend the London 2017 WT Grand Prix Series 3 due to his national competition.

Lee was delighted with his historic third consecutive Grand Prix Final title and this third Male Player of the Year.

“I am really honored to accept this award. I would like to thank everyone who joined in here," Lee said. “I'm always honored with this prize despite this is third time award for me. I am so pleased to be here. It’s also good experience to deliver my message in English for me.”

Walkden was the first fighter of either gender, in any weight category, who had won an entire Grand Prix series.

She won all gold at the 2017 Grand Prix Series 1, 2 and 3, held respectively, in Moscow, Russia; Rabat, Morocco; and London.

“I want to ‘thank you’ to everyone, especially Aaron Cook and Team Great Britain,” Walkden said. “I’ve got one more left: I am going to win the Grand Slam in Wuxi."

The candidate of the Athlete of the Year award qualifies only for players who have won at least two of the 2017 Grand Prix series and the World Championships in Muju.

Candidates for the Male Athlete of the year were Ivory Coast’s Cheick Sallah Cisse, Russia’s Larin Vladislav, Korea’s Tae-hun Kim, and Dae-hoon Lee and candidates for Female were Great Britain’s Bianca Walkden and Jade Jones, Thailand's Panipak Wongpattanakit, Korea’s Ah-Reum Lee, Turkey's Nur Tatar, Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi.

The winners were decided by voting members, players, coaches and referees.

The Male and Female Referee of the Year award were won by Julie Dib of Lebanon and Belgium’s Abdelkhalek Chbibi. The spot poll was conducted to select the best Referee of the Year among the top four candidates, who evaluated themselves.

The Coach of the Year award was won by Serbia’s Dragan Jovic.

The Best Kick of the Year award was won – for the second time – by Moldovan Aaron Cook, for his spinning heel kick to the head of Russia’s Anton Kotkov at the Moscow Grand Prix Series 1. It is a second time he got this award.

Best Member National Association of the Year was won by Korea, which had successfully hosted the biggest Muju world championships in history.

Nominees of the 2017 WT Annual Gala Awards.

The new award, 'Best National Team of the Year' – is the team which has taken home the most medals in the World Championships and Grand Prix Series of 2017 – was won by Korea, followed by Russia in second place and Great Britain in third.

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