Cho Is Damme Sure He Is Ready To Fight For Olympic Qualification
Mahama Cho will invoke the spirit of Jean-Claude Van Damme when he fights in Sunday’s European Olympic qualification tournament in Istanbul.
The London raised heavyweight must reach the final of the +80kg weight division to earn Team GB a fourth and final taekwondo spot at Rio 2016.
London 2012 gold medallist, Jade Jones, World Champion, Bianca Walkden, and Lutalo Muhammad, a winner of last month’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix final series in Mexico, have already secured quota places in three weight categories.
Now, it’s Cho’s chance to add another place and the ‘Hammer’ is adopting the title of martial arts star, Van Damme’s 1986 film, ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ as his motto.
“I have read a lot of books and philosophies on how to get your mind right,” explained the 2015 US Open silver medallist. “To be able to control your chimp, as we call it, and to make sure the chimp doesn’t go AWOL.
“If 90 percent of your mind is right then anything is possible. But if the mind starts playing games it can work against you.
“But I have always had the mentality of ‘no retreat, no surrender’ and that’s what stands out and what I will be thinking when I go out to fight on Sunday.
“I am more excited than nervous. We have some fantastic players at the GB Academy and anyone could have been chosen for this qualification tournament.
“But the selectors chose me and I am really grateful for this opportunity. I have never been better prepared for a tournament in my life.
“I have given so much for this and I really hope I can do what needs to be done when I get out there and try to qualify for my country.”
Cho, 26, was allowed only three days off over the holiday period before returning to training at GB Taekwondo’s new state of the art training facility in Manchester. Fellow big men, Lyle Walker, Levi Goodridge and Tom Smith, interrupted their own breaks to help him prepare for Istanbul.
“I have to thank the support of my team-mates who came back through the break and trained and sparred with me. I have been grateful to have them around.”
Cho, a World Grand Prix bronze medallist in Moscow last year, admits it will be strange flying to a tournament without his team-mates for support. But he is confident of still getting the job done.
“My coach, Nelson Miller, has become a friend and also a father figure. It’s good to have that relationship because we know when to be serious, know when we can laugh and joke.
“That communication only helps your trust and faith.” Cho fights for the first time since Manchester’s edition of the Grand Prix last October.
“I still managed to perform to the best of my ability even with an injury,” he explained. “But this is going to be completely different.
“My legs are fine, my conditioning is great and my mind is where it needs to be. I am focussed on my plan and I hope the training and the sacrifices I have put towards this will be rewarded this weekend.”