By Lauren Mattera 

7th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae ChampionshipsDecember 9 - South Korea, Iran and the United States of America dominated the medal table at the seventh World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Tunji, Colombia, while Vietnam kick their way to the top to take the first ever Freestyle Team title.

The four-day competition, where 556 athletes from 53 countries performing various fundamental stances, blocks, punches and kicks logically arranged in a meaningful order, either individually, in pairs or in teams, showcased the best of 19 categories - including the debut of the freestyle category.

It was an all-round success as nearly half of the nations participating collected medals on the podium.

Yet, it was South Korea who stole the show winning 12 medals, with a particularly spectacular showing on day two, where their national anthem was heard six times as they claimed a medal in every category they competed in, bar one.

Iran was a close second with a total of 10 medals and the US won a total of six.

World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President, Chungwon Choue, heralded the success of the seventh edition of the Championships saying: "Without the athletes, coaches, and officials, these Championships couldn't be.

"The tremendous hard work and dedication to the sport of taekwondo has made them role models to the youth of their nations to look up to.

"And, the wonderful spectators, organisers and volunteers of the city of Tunja, were the heroes and heroines of these Championships.

"They really created the best atmosphere for our very exceptional athletes to compete to be the 'world's best.'

Korea 7th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae ChampionshipsSouth Korea took six golds during the second day of the World Poomsae Championships

What made this year's tournament all the more exciting was, for the first time ever, the WTF World Poomsae Championships featuring freestyle as an official category.

In the men's freestyle class Canada's Charlie Chong displayed perfect moves and flawless presentation to perform leaps and bounds ahead of his rivals to take the men's title, as Vaslav Ayala Talavera of Mexico won silver and China's Luo Qiusheng and Colombia's Leandro Rodriguez both won bronze.

Meanwhile in the women's freestyle division, it was all cheers for Mikeala Clamba of the Philippines as she edged her way into a gold medal slot with a performance filled with unparalleled flexibility and balance, with Vietnam's Chau Tuyet Van narrowly missing out on the top spot to take silver, while bronze went to both Indonesia's Defia Rosmaniar and the US' Ann Bernadette Rodriguez.

Peru proved untouchable in the freestyle pairs, demonstrating the finest in creative artistry, as they managed to hold onto the gold spot from beginning to end, Vietnam won silver while the Philippines and Germany shared bronze.

But it was the Vietnam squad who executed their routine flawlessly, and were hailed as the best Poomsae freestyle team in the world, while second place went jointly to the Philippines and China, and the US won bronze.

7th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships podiumA total of 556 athletes from 53 nations competed at the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships

Elsewhere, excitement grew as both the competitions oldest and youngest competitors, renowned 66-year-old grandmaster of Korea, Kyu Hyun Lee, and 14-year-old Isaac Velez Castano of Colombia, bagged themselves bronze medals, in the men's over-59 and under -17 respectively.

Speaking on the growing popularity of the sport of taekwondo around the world, Choue said: "Taekwondo has always been, and will continue to be a sport for all.

"Any athlete is welcome to participate, regardless of their background or affiliation of any sport or organization, as long as they are willing to follow our rules.

"We have a lot of athletes competing that have a background in other martial arts like karate, judo, wushu, and jujitsu.

"The Taekwondo Family is open to any and all who want to join."

It was an exciting and successful tournament for the home crowd as Colombia secured spots in all finals on the opening day to bring home four out of a possible five medals on offer, along with being rewarded the honorary awards of outstanding organisation and attraction of spectators.

Meanwhile, most valuable player was awarded to Jeong Cheol Kim of Spain and Su Ji Kang of South Korea.

Women's freestyle champion Mikaela Calamba of the Philippines and Karen Suache Arias of Colombia were recognised as best performers.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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December 2012: World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships gets underway in Tunja