WORLD STARS TO THREATEN BEST OF BRITISH IN MANCHESTER
Britain's taekwondo players returned from this year's WTF World Championships in South Korea with a record four medal haul. But more success isn't automatically guaranteed when Manchester stages the fourth annual British Open from October 1-2.
A glittering array of Olympians and World champions are entered, among 420 plus competitors, for one of three key home tournaments before the 2012 London Games.
Many will be going for gold at next year's Olympics. So, the prestigious 2011 British Open is as important to them as it is for the likes of world medallists, Jade Jones, Michael Harvey and Martin Stamper.
Turkish favourite Servet Tazegul, who opposes them in the -68kg division, beat Stamper on his way to gold in Gyeongju back in May.
Recognised as one of the sport's most exciting and attacking exponents, Tazegul also recently struck gold at the Olympic qualifying tournament and is a bronze medallist from Beijing 2008.
The name of Rohullah Nikpai may not be instantly recognisable in the UK. However, back in Afghanistan he is considered a sporting treasure.
Returning to Kabul from the Beijing Olympics with his own bronze medal, Nikpai received a house from President Hamid Karzai, a car from a group of businessmen plus a cheque for over £6,000.
Nikpai, part of a small Afghani squad in Manchester, also gained a world bronze in Korea.
The 24-year-old spent time as a refugee in Iran who were the dominant nation in the men's weight categories at this year's WTF World Championships.
So, watchout for ex world champion, Mohammed Bagheri Motamed (-63kg) plus current champions, Farzad Abdollahi (-80kg) and Yousef Karami (-87kg).
The -80kg division promises compelling viewing.
National champion Andrew Deer, Damon Sansum, son of Princess Diana's former bodyguard, Ruebyn Richards and recent GB Academy acquisition, Lutalo Muhammad, are all chasing a solitary place for London 2012.
And Britain's former world number one, Aaron Cook, currently pursuing a solo training regime, is also in the mix along with ex European silver medallist, Nikolaos Tzellos.
Welsh teenager Jade Jones was one of Britain's four medallists in Gyeongju and a genuine medal chance in London.
So, too is Swedish rival Jennifer Agren. The pair have enjoyed great rivalry over the past 12 months which has now developed into a respectful friendship.
The 18-year-old Scandinavian defeated Jones at last year's European Championships in St Petersburg. But Jones secured a Youth Olympics gold in Singapore when Agren could only manage bronze.
If the -57kg division is worth watching so too the -73 kg class which includes Olympic qualifier and World Champion, Gwladys Epangue from France plus compatriot Anne-Caroline Graffe, world gold medallist at +73kg.
The domestic challenge is provided by Liverpool's Bianca Walkden and Londoner Stephanie Allen, who recently began training with the GB squad at their Manchester base. Walkden is the reigning British Open champion and looking for her first title since returning from major knee surgery.
So, the Brits will need to be on their mettle if they are to see off the global threat of competitors from Austria to Uzbekistan, Guinea to Gabon.
*Tickets for the British Open are now on sale with daily or weekend tickets available.
Fans can ensure they reserve the very best seats by booking online at Ticketmaster or by visiting the GB Taekwondo website, www.gbtaekwondo.co.uk
For further information contact:
Steve Flynn, GB Taekwondo
Telephone: 07808 773264
For accreditation and media requests contact:
Trevor Baxter, Red and White Sport
Telephone: 07768 846839
NOTES TO EDITORS
Major Forthcoming GB Taekwondo Events:
1-2 October 2011 British International Open, Manchester
3-6 May, 2012 European Taekwondo Championships, Manchester
About GB Taekwondo:
Based in Manchester, GB Taekwondo are responsible for the preparation, management and performance of British elite athletes at major championships and the Olympic Games. It is also responsible for the selection policy and the nomination of athletes to the national governing body, British Taekwondo, ahead of such events.
In addition, GB Taekwondo as rights holders, are responsible for the delivery of a series of major taekwondo events including the annual British International Open and in 2012, the European Taekwondo Championships.
GB Taekwondo has recently launched a number of junior development initiatives in partnership with Sport England and Manchester City Council with the objective of both introducing new people to Taekwondo and to identify outstanding talent that can be further developed to ensure a strong British team for years to come.
For further information, visit www.gbtaekwondo.co.uk
About Manchester City Council:
Home to the GB Taekwondo squad and host of the British International Taekwondo Open 2011 and the European Taekwondo Championships in 2012, Manchester continues to strengthen its impressive reputation for successfully staging major international sports events that bring long-term social and economic benefits to the City and its residents.
Manchester’s excellent range of accessible sports venues and facilities, combined with its school and community sports development programmes provide the springboard for sporting stars of the future and events such as these play a key role in the creation of sporting opportunities across the city. Manchester will continue to host major events that deliver real benefits to local people whilst also showcasing the city both as a vibrant place of national and international significance and as a global sporting hub. For more information on Manchester’s sports events programme visit www.manchesterworldsport.com
About UK Sport
UK Sport’s World Class Events Programme distributes approximately £4 million of Lottery funding each year to support the bidding and staging costs of major events on home soil, as well as providing specialist support to organisers.
Events are supported primarily based on their likely performance impact, but the broader impacts of events are also examined, to maximise the wider sporting, social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits, as well as sporting performance and legacy.
Up to 60 events across 30 sports will have been supported from 2010 until the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These competitions will attract around 17,000 athletes and provide opportunities for over 10,000 officials and volunteers to gain international sporting experience and develop key skills ahead of London 2012. More @ www.uksport.gov.uk/events
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