Big hitters and youthful promise reflected in GB Taekwondo’s squad for European Taekwondo Championships
March 19, 2021
Reigning world champions Bradly Sinden, Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden are part of a 15-strong GB Taekwondo squad selected for the first of this year’s three major tournaments.
The Manchester-trained team for the European Championships in Sofia (April 8-11) also includes a selection of exciting newcomers prompting Performance Director, Gary Hall, to say: “Our GB teams seem to get stronger.”
With the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics scheduled for this summer and the World Championships set for China in October, the Euros provide a first significant opportunity for athletes to gauge their form and fitness.
Yorkshireman Sinden is chasing a first European title after collecting bronze three years ago while double Olympic gold medallist, Jones, Walkden and Lauren Williams are all seeking a third continental crown.
In contrast, Chloe Roberts looks to add senior European gold to the junior title won two years ago with fellow youngsters Joshua Long and Jodie McKew earning their call-ups after impressing in the development squad.
Caden Cunningham gets his opportunity at -87kg with Rio Olympic silver medallist, Lutalo Muhammad, unavailable for selection due to injury.
Here they are 🙌🇬🇧
Introducing your European Championships squad heading back to Bulgaria next month!🥋✨
— GB Taekwondo 🇬🇧 (@GBTaekwondo) March 19, 2021
“We have a great blend of some of the most experienced and best fighters on the planet with some new, developing and exciting young talent,” said Hall.
“This is the biggest event of 2021 so far but we have a unique year ahead with the Olympic Games and World Championships.
“However, this event carries significant ranking points so athletes and staff are focused on winning as much as possible in terms of silverware but also to accumulate as many points as possible.”
Meaningful competitions have been few and far between during the 12-month long coronavirus pandemic but there have been yardsticks to guide the selection panel.
“It has been tough,” agreed Hall. “But over the last three or four months, we have done well to get in some decent competition and training camps in the UK, which have helped see where we are at.
“We are really grateful to the DCMS, Public Health England, UK Sport, Manchester City Council and GLL for helping us do this in a safe manner.
“Most recently, of course, we competed in Bulgaria (Sofia Open) and have fought in Croatia and Bosnia at the back-end of last year.
“So, we have some relevant and informed data. We could have done with more but we have got to pick off what information we have.
“We have a strong group of selectors and have made the best decisions possible to try and win the best set of medals possible.”
GB Taekwondo won seven medals at the 2018 Euros including golds for Jones, Williams and Christian McNeish who steps up from -68kg to -74kg this time.
The squad is as follows:
-54kg: Joshua Long (Spennymoor)
-58kg: Mason Yarrow (Doncaster)
– 63kg: Mohammed Nour (Wandsworth, London)
-68kg: Bradly Sinden (Doncaster)
-74kg: Christian McNeish (Plaistow, London)
-80kg: Josh Calland (Knowsley)
-87kg: Caden Cunningham (Huddersfield)
+87Kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell, London)
-49kg: Maddison Moore (Blakedown)
-53kg: Jodie McKew (Dollingstown, Craigavon)
-57kg: Jade Jones (Flint)
-62kg: Chloe Roberts (Stoke)
-67kg: Lauren Williams (Newport, Gwent)
-73 kg: Rebecca McGowan (Dumbarton)
+73 kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)