Chinese star Wu Jingyu is braced for a tough defence of her title as she bids to become the first-ever taekwondo player to win three Olympic gold medals at Rio 2016.
The under 49 kilograms competitor topped the podium at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and is the favourite to defend her crown at Rio 2016.
Wu has a 90 per cent win ratio in international events and enjoyed a successful World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix season last year.
The 29-year-old is described as "arguably the most dominant taekwondo player, male or female" by the sport’s worldwide governing body but is far from assured of clinching a third consecutive Olympic crown.
Thailand’s Panipak Wongpattanakit, the 2015 world champion in the under 46kg category, poses the biggest threat to Wu’s Olympic gold medal ambitions at Rio 2016 having narrowly lost out by a point to the Chinese athlete at the Samsun Grand Prix in 2015.
She also suffered defeat at the hands of Wu at the WTF Grand Prix Final in Mexico City and will be hoping to avenge the losses to the reigning Olympic champion at Rio 2016.
Others who will also be looking to upset the odds during next month’s Olympics, where taekwondo action is due to take place at the Carioca Arena 3 from August 17 to 20, include Croatia’s Lucija Zaninovic, South Korea’s So-hui Kim and France’s Yasmina Aziez.
Zaninovic, the 2012 European champion, has not quite been able to capitalise on her Grand Prix-winning year in 2014 but will travel to Rio 2016 confident she can overcome Wu and clinch a surprise Olympic gold medal.
The Croatian was the top-ranked taekwondo player in the category before Wu arrived on the same and will be hoping to return to past glories in the under 49kg tournament.
Kim, who competes at under 46kg at World Championships, is a double world champion and won gold at the Asian Games on home soil in Incheon two years ago, while Grand Prix Final silver medallist Aziez is also a contender.