GB TAEKWONDO STARS RELISHING EURO CHALLENGE
Confident Lutalo Muhammad plans a medal winning return to action when he takes his place in GB Taekwondo’s 15-strong squad for this month’s European Championships in Switzerland. (May 19-22)
Olympic champion Jade Jones, who made her own successful comeback at last month’s German Open, and World Champion, Bianca Walkden, are also included for the Montreux competition.
However, London 2012 bronze medallist Muhammad hasn’t fought since winning the World Grand Prix final series in Mexico last December.
And the Euros represent a final, major competitive outing before next month’s selection for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Muhammad, 24, has qualified Britain’s place in the -80kg weight division for Rio but 2014 European and 2015 World Championship silver medallist, Damon Sansum, remains in contention for selection.
Muhammad was one of seven GB medallists at the last edition of the Euros two years ago and only France-with nine-won more medals.
“This will be my third European Championships and I am extremely eager to go on and win it,” said Londoner Muhammad. “I won the title in 2012 and got bronze in 2014 when I lost to the winner.
“But I do believe I am going to get my title back. Of course there is pressure because it’s the last major tournament before the Olympics. But it is a good type of pressure.
“In Olympic year, every performance is scrutinised and in every fight you want to show yourself at your best.
“What I can control is my own performance. And if I go out there and give it my best I do believe I can win the Championship again.
“I am really keen to get back in the ring. I have had an intense rehabilitation period but I am back into my normal training programme now. So, I am excited to show everyone what I can do.
“It’s going to be fun to go out and remind everyone why I have the titles I have,”.
All of Britain’s big hitters, including European Games gold medallist, Charlie Maddock, and last year’s World Championship bronze medallist, Rachelle Booth, are named in the Euro squad.
The team also features teenagers Hassan Haider from Falkirk and Doncaster’s Bradly Sinden. The promising 17-year-olds have emerged through the Great Britain Talent Pathway initiative and get a first senior chance to shine in a couple of non Olympic weight categories.
”It is a strong squad,” agrees GB Performance Director, Gary Hall. “It includes all the athletes who would hope to be making statements at the Olympic Games.
“It’s been a good start to the year for some athletes in strong fields. And we are looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“Obviously, it is the last tournament before the Olympic Games and as such it is good build-up practice.”
-54kg: Hassan Haider (Falkirk)
-58kg: Feyi Pearce (Croydon)
-63kg: Bradly Sinden (Doncaster)
-68 kg: Benjamin Haines (Portsmouth)
-74kg: Christian McNeish (Plaistow)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)
-87kg: Damon Samsun (Elgin)
+87kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell), Lyle Walker (Law)
-53kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
-57kg: Jade Jones (Flint)
-62kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan)
-67kg: Lauren Williams (Newport)
-73kg: Jade Slavin (Consett)
+73kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)