New Delhi, June 23 () Indias top taekwondo players, led by India No. 1 Prithiviraj Chauhan and No. 2 Shivan Shetty, will jump into the arena to battle for honours and glory as the inaugural Taekwondo Premier League gets underway, here on Saturday.
Prithiviraj, who has won several medals at the international stage, has been selected to represent India in the Asian Games and the World University Games.
“I am hopeful of taking my team (Maharashtra Avengers) deep into the league.We are all very excited and are looking forward to the competition,” Chauhan said.
India No. 3 Nitish Bharadwaj (Lucknow Nawabs), Asian Championship bronze medallist Naveen Sandhu (Rajasthan Rebels) will be among the other attractions.
The curtain went up on the league on Friday, with the TPL Founders and team owners meeting a special delegation from World Taekwondo who have arrived to observe the league.
The delegation was led by Grandmaster Jun Lee, a nine-time Dan Black Belt, the highest achievement in the sport, who has been part of the league since its conception stage.
“The day of reckoning for Indian taekwondo has arrived. I am going to evaluate each and every player in the twelve teams and then share my feedback with them. It won’t be long before these same players will start winning medals for India on the international stage,” Jun Lee said.
The TPL has been a huge success even before the first match, with the founders finding twelve owners for each of their franchises.
The high-profile owners include Srishti Rana (Haryana Hunters), the Miss India Asia Pacific and Miss Asia Pacific World 2013, Bijit Gogoi, Mr India 2004 (Assam Heroes), Mr India, Shyam Patel (Delhi Warriors), a diamond merchant from Gujarat and Allu Reddy (Hyderabad Gliders), a real estate magnate from Hyderabad.
Apart from Srishti, there are three other lady owners, Ruchita Mittal (Maharashtra Avengers), Shilpa Pateland Isha Patel (Chennai Strikers).
TPL co-founder Ganesh Duvvuri pointed out that the twelve teams would be divided into four groups.
“Each team boasts of a mentor, a coach and five players, including two substitutes. In all, 19 matches will be held before the champions are crowned in the 58.1kg-67.9kg category,” Duvvuri said.
“The matches will be held in the round-robin format and two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals. The quarters, semifinals and finals will be on a knockout basis,” he explained.
Interestingly, each match will be in the Best of Five format and will have five rounds of 90 seconds each in which three players can compete.
“We are introducing a new team concept. Each player will have to fight for a minimum of 30 seconds. After that, he can be substituted, providing for a chance to three players,” Dr GK Venkat, co-founder and the force behind the league, said.