The 12th ASEAN Taekwondo Federation (ATF) Championships kicked off at the Lanh Binh Thang Sporting Hall in Ho Chi Minh City on March 23, attracting a record number of athletes.

The event brought together 337 taekwondo fighters from 10 Southeast Asian countries: Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos, Timor-Leste, and Singapore.

They will vie for 172 sets of medals, including 56 sets in the combat category and 116 for demonstrations.

ATF President Kris Wiluan said the 12th tournament has drawn the largest number of fighters, illustrating the strong development of regional taekwondo practice.

The championship is also a chance for countries to prepare and select its best athletes for the 28th Southeast Asian Games (SEA GAMES 28), scheduled to take place in Singapore in June, said Phan Nguyen Nhu Khue, Director of the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

It will help regional nations to exchange taekwondo promotion experience and foster relations, he added.

The tournament, which will run through March 26, is organised by the Vietnam Taekwondo Federation and the municipal department.

At the 11th ATF Taekwondo Championships held in Myanmar in 2013, Vietnam ranked first with 24 gold, 12 silver, and nine bronze medals.-VNA