Gold Stars! Grand Prix Victories for Jones and Walkden to End Memorable Year on a High
Olympic champion Jade Jones and World champion Bianca Walkden ensured a golden finish to the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix for GB Taekwondo in Baku, Azerbaijan tonight. (Saturday)
In their first events since claiming gold and bronze respectively at the Rio Olympics, Jones won the -57kg division while Walkden captured a first-ever Grand Prix crown in the +73kg weight category. Victory was also worth $USD 6,000.
Their double success took Great Britain’s final medal tally to three gold after Charlie Maddock’s brilliant displays at -49kg 24 hours earlier.
It was almost four medals in two days but 2015 World Championship medallist, Rachelle Booth from Wigan, lost in the bronze medal match against South Korea’s Ah Reum Lee.
Welsh wonder Jones whitewashed Lee 12-0 in the semi-finals before brushing aside Egypt’s Hedaya Malak 7-0 in the final.
Liverpudlian heavyweight Walkden gained a measure of revenge for her Olympic heartbreak back in August. After an 8-4 semi-final victory against American Jackie Galloway, Walkden thumped Rio conqueror and China’s Olympic champion, Shuyin Zheng, 3-1 in the final.
“After winning the Olympics I felt so much more relaxed coming into this tournament,” said 23-year-old Jones from Flint. “People don’t realise how hard it is to come back from an Olympics and fight again.
“It can be an anti-climax after the Olympics so I am really pleased to come here and get gold because I didn’t do that after London.
“And it’s extra special when we both win titles because we both push each other so hard” added Jones. “It will be happy room and we can both celebrate together.”
Delighted Walkden said:“It was great to beat the Chinese girl in the final to get my own back. This is my first Grand Prix success so it is another title ticked off the list.”
Baku has proved a happy hunting for the Brits. Maddock and Jones won European Games gold medals last year while Walkden won the first of her two European Championship titles in the Azerbaijani capital two years ago.
“I wanted that Olympic gold but to get bronze, win the Grand Prix and the Europeans, it hasn’t been a bad year,” she added. “Jade and I live in the same house, we are best friends and to come out and win the gold together is really nice.”
Wiganer Booth defeated So-Hee Kim of South Korea 5-4 and Nikita Glasnovic of Sweden 1-0 to reach the last four. She then went down 3-1 against Malak and couldn’t recover her disappointment to overcome Lee in the battle for bronze.
Rio Olympian Mahama Cho reached the quarter-finals in the heavyweight division only to lose on golden point to Russian Vladislav Larin.