Liango lost consciousness

Updated: August 27, 2004, 11:16 AM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- A taekwondo competitor from the Central African Republic was hospitalized Friday after being knocked out during a preliminary bout.

Bertrand Gbongou Liango was kicked in the left side of the head by Tuncay Caliskan of Austria during their 150-pound (68 kg) bout. He fell face-down to the mat, then lay motionless while being counted out. He was carried off on a stretcher.

Liango, 22, was unconscious but breathing as he was carried off, a venue manager said.

After a couple minutes he started moving his hands, breathing easily and regained consciousness, a doctor at the site said in a statement. Liango was undergoing tests at Tzanio Hospital and will remain there for at least 24 hours.

"Thank god Bertrand is OK,'' said Liango's coach, Zacques Dominik. "We saw him moving his hands and breathing. Everything is going well.''

Liango was leading 4-1 in the third and final round of his bout when a roundhouse kick from Caliskan knocked him unconscious.

"It is the nature of our sport,'' Caliskan said. "I tried to win the match, which was the same thing that my opponent did. I send him my best wishes.''

Caliskan's kick was legal. In taekwondo, competitors score points by kicking or punching their opponents. They are allowed to punch only the body, but can kick the their opponent's head.

Blows to the head count for two points, and a blow to the body is worth one point. Competitors wear padded headgear and chest and abdomen protectors.

"It is an ordinary technique,'' Austria coach Mustafa Atalar said. "My athlete tried to win the match and not to harm his opponent. He executed the kick but the other athlete didn't take the right defensive position. This was the first time that I saw this kick cause such damage.''

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press