WILLIAMS INTENT ON KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES
Olympic champion Jade Jones isn’t the only Welsh fighter looking to win a first European Championship title in Montreux over the next four days.
Indeed, Lauren Williams is already one up on her older compatriot having secured a World Junior Championship gold medal in March 2014.
The Gwent teenager hasn’t kicked on in the senior ranks just yet due to her age and two major ankle operations.
Now, the 17-year-old from Blackwood is keen to make up for lost time in just her second competition of 2016.
And she’s optimistic of building on her quarter-final appearance at the inaugural President’s Cup when only French world champion, Haby Niare, halted her progress.
“I know I can beat her,” says Williams, eagerly anticipating her European bow at -67kg on Saturday. “If was mentally stronger the result might have been different.
“I am not going to put pressure on myself and say I am going to get gold. But I know if I am strong enough I can achieve a medal.
“As soon as I stepped on the mat, it all came back to me,” said Williams of her latest comeback. “I know I was a bit ring rusty but it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
“It gave me confidence going into the Euros knowing I could do well. But it was devastating suffering the second injury. I only came back for two or three months and then I was out of action again.
“It was hard trying to keep the motivation to train and stay on track. But I got great support from my team mates and the GB medical staff and now I can’t wait to get going.”
Williams may only have completed a couple of senior events but she has picked up valuable lessons.
“It’s a lot more tactical, more of a game,” she says. “In the juniors was all out attack and go for each other.
“I need to calm down because I kept going for people and getting caught with stupid shots I shouldn’t have done.
“But I have only had two competitions so I am not really familiar with my weight and how everyone fights. I will be soon.”
Team mate Jade Slavin is also keen to make the most of her return to action. The 23-year-old from County Durham last fought at the Korean Open in July 2015.
A month later she underwent hip surgery and missed the rest of the season and the start of the 2016 campaign. “I am really excited to be back,” said the former Commonwealth champion.
“It was hard sat at home, watching all my team mates go off to competitions. But I kept my taekwondo head on by watching them via live streaming and it’s great now to get this chance for myself.
“I am not going with too much expectation but I will certainly be trying my best and looking forward to more competitions this year.”
*BBC TV are showing the Friday, Saturday and Sunday finals online while Friday and Sunday action will also be broadcast via the Red Button service.
Friday, May 20:
-63kg: Bradly Sinden (Doncaster)
-68kg: Ben Haines (Portsmouth)
-53kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
-57kg: Jade Jones (Flint)
Saturday, May 21:
-74kg: Christian McNeish (Plaistow)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)
-62kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan)
-67kg: Lauren Williams (Newport)
Sunday, May 22:
-87kg: Damon Sansum (Elgin)
+87kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell), Lyle Walker (Law)
-73kg: Jade Slavin (Consett)
+73kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)