Omar Salim won the world men's under-54 kilograms title ©Getty Images

In becoming the 2022 world men's under-54 kilograms champion in November, Hungary's 19-year-old Omar Salim completed an extraordinary family double.

In November 1991, at the World Taekwondo Championships in Athens, Omar's father Gergely, then also 19, had won gold in the same category.

The psychological odds were stacked against Salim in the Mexican city of Guadalajara this year as he was matched, in a noisy and partisan arena, against local hero Cesar Rodriguez - renowned for his fighting spirit, determination and dynamic kicking technique.

What may have helped Salim was the fact that Rodriguez had reached the final after a huge battle with South Korea's Jun-seo Bae.

Salim, on the other hand, had had an easier semi-final victory against Po-yen Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Salim opened the final with one of his own specialities, a scoring punch, and led 14-3 after the first round.

In the second, Salim began to display his own kicking prowess to good effect, putting Rodriguez onto the back foot.

Comfortably ahead on the board, Salim spent the last seconds back-pedalling - and was penalised for it - but ended as an 11-9 winner.

During the bout itself, Omar told World Taekwondo, he blanked out the thought of following in his father’s footsteps. 

But he added: "It is something I had thought about all my life - that it would be amazing to replicate it."

Meanwhile Gergely, who is also his son's coach, commented: "We never talked about it. But now we talk about it!"

The Guadalajara gold was sweet indeed for the Salim family - but their joy was edged with sorrow.

"The person that got the whole family into taekwondo was my brother, who passed away this year," Gergely said. 

"There was so much heartache and now we have got something so positive, it melts my heart, it is indescribable - Omar’s biggest fan was my brother."

Salim has been practising taekwondo for 17 of his 19 years.

"The brain develops differently when you start young," said his father. 

"He was in diapers kicking bags at two."

That long apprenticeship in the art has produced a dynamic and ambidextrous fighter with deeply embedded fundamentals, a wide range of kicks and a consistent scoring punch.

In November 1991, at the World Taekwondo Championships in Athens, Omar's father Gergely, then also 19, had won gold in the same category ©Getty Images
In November 1991, at the World Taekwondo Championships in Athens, Omar's father Gergely, then also 19, had won gold in the same category ©Getty Images

"I have experienced other coaching, but there is nothing like being coached by family, let alone by my own father," Omar said. 

"I am so used to him being in my corner, I would not change a thing."

Even so, Salim's father admits he would not mind disengaging and watching the play from a distance. 

"Sometimes, I wish I could sit in the stands with a drink and popcorn and enjoy from there," he said.

As the competitive focus begins to shift more firmly towards the Paris 2024 Olympics, both father and son are remaining calm and collected.

"We take it one step at a time," Omar said.

"It was very important to get this win, it’s a lot of points, but now we are moving on to the next competition. 

"I don’t want to force the agenda."

"I don’t think it helps to look at such a big picture," his father added. 

"It’s better with small goals, we take it match by match, as every competition is a different competition."

Taekwondo is a way of life for all the Salims.

Omar's older brother Sharif fought in Guadalajara and made the round-of-16. 

The boys' two sisters also train, and the family business is their dojang, "Salim's Taekwondo".

In a global sport, they are a truly global family - of Tanzanian ancestry, they hold Hungarian nationality and live in Los Angeles, California.

There, when he is not training or teaching taekwondo, Omar runs on the city's beaches and surfs its waves. 

With his athletic physique, colourful sports gear and dreadlocks, he exemplifies California cool.

His father is more focused on sporting aesthetics.

"For me, as much as I want to win, I think it should look nice, so if, at the end of the day we lost, but make the game look nicer, I’d be OK with that," Gergely said. 

"It has to be dynamic! It has to be fun to watch!"

Omar added: "I am not necessarily trying to look a certain way, I try to enjoy it and have fun. 

"I have emotions - nerves and anxiety - but I feel when I am in my most comfortable zone, as I was, I enjoy doing what I have been trained to do all these years."