Top names in action at para-taekwondo qualifiers. GETTY IMAGES

Para-taekwondo athletes are preparing for the European Qualification Tournament for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in Sofia, Bulgaria followed by the Asian Qualification Tournament for the Games in Tai'an City, China.

The qualifying events in Bulgaria and China follow on from the African qualifying tournament, which was a huge success with new nations making the cut for Paralympics for the very first time. The European Qualifier event is just a week away and the excitement is building up with 35 athletes registered for the event. With some top names including world champions - Israel's Asaf Yasur and Italy's Antonino Bossolo - registering for the event to support for their team's athletes, it will be interesting to see how the World Refugee Team athletes fare. 

Names such as Hadi Hassanzada, an Afghan refugee living in Austria, will be competing in Sofia for a chance to qualify for the Paralympics.

2023 European champion Zakia Khudadadi of the Refugee Team. GETTY IMAGES
2023 European champion Zakia Khudadadi of the Refugee Team. GETTY IMAGES

He will be accompanied by Zakia Khudadadi, who fled Afghanistan in 2021 and now trains in Paris. She won a gold medal at the Para European Championships in Rotterdam in 2023. Ten days later, the Asian Qualifying Tournament will kick off with some of the familiar names in action, including Palesha Goverdhan, who won a historic bronze medal for Nepal at the 2022 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, in action. 

Afghanistan, China, Chinese Taipei, India, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Uzbekistan are among the countries that have registered athletes for the Tai'an event and will be back in the hunt for a place at the Paralympics.