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Getting Ahead – Sansum Aiming For Turkey Crowns

Former kickboxing world champion Damon Sansum believes he’s no longer living a double life.

And recent results back-up Sansum’s claim that his previous martial arts existence is now well behind him.

With three wins from his last four tournaments, including US Open success in Florida, earlier this month, the big Scot has good reason to be confident ahead of this week’s busy competition schedule.

Sansum is among 20 GB Taekwondo fighters contesting the European Clubs’ Championship in Antalya tomorrow. (Tuesday) And the 2014 European Championship silver medallist will also see action at the Turkish Open starting on Friday.

An excellent 12 months has catapulted the 27-year-old Manchester based star into the top 10 of the Olympic rankings at -80kg. And he’s providing a consistent challenge to GB rival and London 2012 bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad.

“I got respect in kick boxing because people knew me and knew what I was about,” explained Sansum, one of 20 GB fighters taking to the mat tomorrow.

“When I moved over to taekwondo I had to start at the bottom again. Now I am doing well in more tournaments players are watching out for me.

“The degree of respect is certainly there even though you don’t get to the top of the rankings without doing well. But I am getting more recognition which is good.”

Sansum’s main focus for 2015 is the World Championships in Russia in May. Next year he hopes to be part of GB Taekwondo’s biggest ever Olympic squad in Rio.

“At the last Olympics, I was still new to taekwondo and while it was still a dream, I didn’t think I could go and win the tournament.

“I was in the running to a certain extent but I definitely am now. However, there is a lot think about between now and Rio but hopefully I can put myself in a position to be selected.

“This is the big year. It is where the performances and the ranking points matter. This is the year to deliver.”

Olympic champion Jade Jones makes her first appearance of 2015 in both this week’s tournaments. The Welsh ace hasn’t competed since winning the World Grand Prix finals series in Mexico last December when she was also named WTF Taekwondo female athlete of the year.

Nottingham’s Ruebyn Richards made a brilliant start to 2014 with victories at the Luxor and Fujairah Opens. He also secured a European Championship bronze medal before injury curtailed his activity for the rest of the year.

Now Richards is back looking to make up for lost time in a competitive -74kg weight division whilst casting an eye on the -68kg category that has seen GB rivals Tony Stephenson win the 2015 Greek Open, Martin Stamper claim silver at the US Open and Michael Harvey finish with a recent Bosnia Open bronze,

GB Squad for European Clubs’ Championship, Tuesday 10 February 2015

-54kg: Max Cater, Archie Waldock

-63kg: Jordan Gayle

-68kg: Michael Harvey, Ben Haines, Christian McNeish, Martin Stamper, Tony Stephenson

-74kg: Ruebyn Richards

-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad, Damon Sansum, Tom Smith

-87kg: Levi Goodridge

+87kg: Lyle Walker

-53kg: Georgia Barnes, Charlie Maddock

-57kg: Nicole Huntington, Jade Jones

-62kg: Rachelle Booth

+73kg: Bianca Walkden

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