“Tough Selection For Worlds” Says GB Taekwondo Chief Hall
Performance Director Gary Hall hailed a successful Dutch Open for his GB Academy stars in their last selection tournament before the WTF World Championships in Russia.
Olympic champion Jade Jones (-57kg), Damon Sansum (-80kg) and World Junior champion, Lauren Williams (-62kg) all struck gold in Eindhoven with Liverpool teenager Josh Calland claiming a battling silver at -54kg.
Hall will sit down this week with the GB selectors to pick a squad for the Worlds in Chelyabinsk, from May 12-18. And after failing to win a medal at the 2013 edition in Puebla, Mexico, Hall is optimistic his Manchester trained team can hit the heights of 2011 when Sarah Stevenson struck gold as part of a four medal haul.
“We have a tough selection to make but it will be tough for the right reasons,” said Hall on his return from Holland.
“We will select the best team possible to try to achieve our medal targets. The sad thing is we can only select one athlete per event.
“But we have got more than a couple of athletes in some categories who could go out to Russia to do a job and get a medal.
“So, there will be some tough calls but the right kind of tough calls. However, it is really encouraging we are getting this strength in depth with the squad now.”
Williams’ maiden senior title win included a second round win over Switzerland’s reigning European champion and world number one, Nina Klaey. The Newport prospect’s victory rounded off an excellent three days for a squad that has achieved a bagful of medals in 2015 from Florida to Luxor, Bosnia to Turkey.
“It was another good Championship with a great set of results on one of the top Open events of the year so far,” added Hall.
“We finished second place overall in both men’s and women’s events. And it could have been even better as there were a few golden point decisions in other weight divisions that didn’t quite go our way.”
Williams was fighting for only the second time since recovering from ankle surgery last year. A product of the successful ‘Fighting Chance’ talent ID initiative, Hall said of the teenager:”She is a star in the making.
“Lauren has similar fight characteristics to Jade. I don’t want to compare them too much because they are different in the way they do things.
“But they do have a generic fight mode in them. And it is worth mentioning that Josh came into the Academy through our development plan run in conjunction with Sport England.
“Josh and Max Cater (2015 Bosnia and Swiss Open champion) plus Archie Waldock who got gold at the Dutch Open junior event, are testament to that project and are making really good prospects.”
Delighted Williams said of her 8-6 final victory over Iranian Shokraneh Izadi:”It feels amazing. I wasn’t as confidant in my final as some of the other fights but as soon as I got a few points on the board, I was fine.
“But I was caught with a head shot which shocked me. I thought I was going to lose but I stuck to my tactics and managed to get four points back.”
Jones won her sixth successive tournament at the expense of Youth Olympic and World Junior gold medallist, Kimia Zenoorin of Iran while Sansum defeated Russian Aydemir Shakhbanov.