Olympic Champion Jones Is Crowned Queen Of Europe
Jade Jones won Great Britain’s second taekwondo gold medal of the European Games to confirm her status as world number one.
The 22-year-old Welsh star defeated 2015 World Championship bronze medallist, Ana Zaninovic, 12-9 in the -57kg final in Baku.
Twenty four hours earlier GB Taekwondo team mate, Charlie Maddock, struck gold at -49kg.
For London 2012 champion Jones it was her seventh final win in her last eight tournaments and eased the disappointment of last month’s World Championship quarter-final exit. She led 5-0 after the first round, found herself deadlocked approaching the end of the second before regaining a lead at 8-6 she wasn’t to lose.
“I’m buzzing,” said the Manchester trained fighter after victory over last year’s European champion. “I have won the Youth Olympics, the senior Olympics and now to get the European Games title at such a young age is amazing.
“All through the day I didn’t fight my best and scraped through a couple of times. But I felt I fought a lot better in the final so I am chuffed.”
Jones, the reigning World Grand Prix series champion, admitted her recent ‘failure’ in Russia spurred her on in Azerbaijan.
“I was really upset after the World Championships. And I did well just to get back into training and crack on. So, coming here with a loss of confidence but to win gold is fantastic.
“What’s pleasing is I won without being at my best so I still have plenty to work on.”
Jones agreed Maddock’s success the previous day gave her extra motivation to secure another title. “What Charlie has achieved is amazing,” she confirmed.
“To come through from Fighting Chance and only be doing taekwondo for just over a year is credit to her. It gives me confidence in our programme.”
Jones reached the final with a 7-6 win over Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic, surviving a scare after the 2014 European bronze medallist recovered from 7-1 down.
Starting her campaign with a 9-1, first round win over Cypriot Despina Pilavaki, the ‘Headhunter’ laboured for the opening two rounds of her quarter-final against Edina Kotsis.
Hungarian Kotsis led 2-0 going into the final round only for the Welsh star to find her range and turn the deficit into a 5-2 victory.
Former World medallist Martin Stamper celebrated his late call-up with an 18-13 win over Filip Grgic after the Croatian led 9-1 and 10-3. But the London 2012 Olympian, replacing injured Ruebyn Richards late last week, went down 18-6 in his last eight bout to Olympic bronze medallist and 2015 World silver medallist, Alexey Denisenko of Russia.
“I didn’t know where half his points were coming from,” admitted Stamper of his 21-year-old rival’s slick moves. He was just literally touching the body armour and scoring.”
Denisenko’s semi-final defeat denied Stamper of a repechage shot at bronze. “I have tried to adapt my game to the new breed of player. I did have a game plan but it just didn’t go to plan. He was too good in the end.”
BT Sport are broadcasting the Games live and also there is a live stream available via www.gbtaekwondo.co.uk
Watch the entire -57kg final below:
Round One: bt Filip Grgic (Croatia) 18-13
Round Two: lost 18-6 to Alexey Denisenko (Russia)
Round One: bt Despina Pilavaki (Cyprus) 9-1
Quarter final: bt Edina Kotsis (Hungary) 5-2
Semi final: bt Nikita Glasnovic (Sweden) 7-6
Final: bt Ana Zaninovic (Croatia) 12-9
Schedule (+4 hour time difference in Baku)
June 18:-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)
June 19:+80kg Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
June 19:+67kg Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)