Jones, Walkden And Muhammad Celebrate Euro Club Gold
London 2012 gold medallist Jade Jones opened her 2015 campaign the same way as she finished 2014-on top of the podium.
Olympic champion Jones, 21, claimed one of three gold medals for GB Taekwondo at the 3rd European Clubs’ Championship at Antalya in Turkey.
After an 11-4 win over Croatian Martina Zubcic in the -57kg final, the Welsh fighter now has sights set on doubling her tally at this weekend’s Turkish Open ranking tournament.
London 2012 bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad and 2014 European champion, Bianca Walkden, also claimed titles at the intense one-day event.
Manchester based Jones hadn’t competed since victory over Spanish nemesis Eva Calvo Gomez in the WTF World Grand Prix series final in Mexico last December.
“The first couple of rounds I was really nervous, probably because I haven’t really fought for a while,” she admitted. “Sometimes, it is hard to get up for the smaller competitions.
“But then I got into it and started buzzing. I was losing in the first round of the final but stayed calm and managed to bring it back.
“My aim is to do less competitions this year so I have got to try and nail the ones I’m involved in.
“It’s great then to start by getting 10 ranking points. Hopefully, I can do the same again on Saturday because this year is so important.
“By the end of it we will know which weights will be picked for Rio 2016. To qualify the weight, I have got to be in the top six in the world and luckily I am in a good place at the minute.”
Jones’s main focus will be the World Championships in May. But she will also compete at the inaugural European Games in Azerbaijan from June 12-28.
Today (Wednesday) Jones has been confirmed as an international athlete ambassador for the Baku Games. “It’s great to think I will be one of the faces for the Games,” she enthused.
“It’s a brilliant honour for me but also for the sport. It just shows the profile is getting higher and higher.”
GB stars won a total of seven European Clubs’ medals with Muhammad’s victory in the -80kg weight division including a morale boosting 3-2 semi-final success over team mate and US Open champion, Damon Sansum.
Liverpudlian Walkden, competing for only the second time since rupturing her cruciate ligaments last July, improved on last month’s Greek Open silver by winning the +73kg (heavyweight) title.
In another ‘Battle of Britain’ contest Southampton’s Georgia Barnes Barnes beat Stoke on Trent rival, Charlie Maddock, on the way to adding a -49kg bronze to her recent victory at the Bosnia Open in Sarajevo.
Former kickboxer and 2014 Commonwealth champion, Rachelle Booth from Wigan, missed the opening three tournaments of 2015 but returned to action with silver at -62kg.
Jade Jones (-57kg), Lutalo Muhammad (-80kg), Bianca Walkden (+73kg)
Silver: Rachelle Booth (-62kg)
Bronze: Georgia Barnes (-49kg), Jordan Gayle (-63kg), Christian McNeish (-68kg), Damon Sansum (-80kg).