Barnes – Stormer: GB Youngsters Hit Max-Power In Bosnia
Teenager Georgia Barnes came of age in Sarajevo tonight (Sunday) to win GB Taekwondo’s second gold and fourth medal of the Bosnia Open.
The 18-year-old defeated 2012 European champion and former world silver medallist, Rukiye Yildirim of Turkey, in the final of the -49kg weight category.
There was bronze too for Mancunian Michael Harvey who enjoyed a welcome return to form in the -68kg division. With 17-year-old Max Cater and Archie Waldock, 16, winning gold and bronze on Saturday, it proved another successful weekend for the Manchester based GB Academy.
For Barnes, European Junior champion in 2013, it was further proof she’s back to her best after two hip operations sidelined her progress last year.
“I fought Yildirim in Sweden before my injury and lost on golden point,” she explained after a 7-5 victory over her 23-year-old rival. “So, I was happy to be up against her again so I could get my own back.
“I don’t know if this is my best victory but it is certainly up there,” said the South Coast raised prospect, a bronze medalist at the 2014 European Championships. “Happily, the hip feels fine now.”
After losing in the Greek Open quarter-finals last month, Barnes hit back in style with four excellent wins to put her in good spirits for forthcoming back-to-back tournaments in Turkey.
“The injury was frustrating because I just wanted to get back into training<” she explained. “It was a long six months just resting.”
Former kick boxer Max Cater enjoyed the best moment of his WTF taekwondo career in Sarajevo on Saturday night, winning the -54kg title.
The 17-year-old London born, Manchester based prospect belied his inexperience to strike gold over 2014 European Junior bronze medallist, Marko Maljkovic.
A 13-10 victory avenged a semi-final defeat for GB Academy team mate, Archie Waldock, by the promising Croatian.
Despite losing 12-8 to Maljkovic, Waldock, 16, finished with a bronze medal in his step-up to the senior ranks. The pair have progressed via the BTS club in Southampton and identified as future stars through the Sport England supported, GB Talent Development programme.
“I watched Archie’s semi-final against Maljkovic and picked up a few ideas how to beat him,” said promising Cater.
“I also managed to get him with two head shots so I was delighted with my performance, especially after being a little nervous before the fight,” he added.
“All the finals were on the main mat so the lights in the rest of the arena were all dimmed. I hadn’t experienced anything like that before.
“It’s a great way to start my year. If I am to stand any chance of getting to the Olympics next year I have got to keep on collecting ranking points.
“I’ve always wanted to compete at an Olympics which is why I switched over from kick boxing when I was about 11 or 12.
“Moving to the GB Academy last year has been a massive boost. It was hard at first but I am getting used to it now,” added Cater, the current senior Commonwealth champion at -54kg,
Barnes, Cater and Waldock are also former members of the BTS club in Southampton, a newly designated ‘GB Talent Club’ focused on developing talented athletes in the South East.
Harvey, -63kg European champion in 2012, narrowly missed out on the final, losing on golden point to his Italian opponent.
However, there were more positives than disappointments for GB Performance Director, Gary Hall. “We bagged more gold medals last month than in any other January in the Academy’s history,” he said.
“So, it’s been a really good start and in a World Championship year, it’s great to see the progress the team is making.”