Golden girl Jade wraps up record equalling World Grand Prix haul for GB Taekwondo
21st October 2018
Jade Jones and Damon Sansum ensured GB Taekwondo stars achieved a record-equalling tally of World Grand Prix medals on the final day of action in Manchester tonight (Sunday).
Double Olympic champion Jones lived up to her tag as a pre-event favourite with gold in the -57kg final against Chinese teenager, Lijun Zhou.
Sansum achieved a best-ever Grand Prix result in the -80kg weight division but Raul Martinez Garcia claimed his first GP crown with a 22-7 victory.
However, the two podium places boosted GB’s final medal tally to five, matching their 2017 haul at the London Grand Prix 12 months ago.
“What a lot of people don’t know is I was in tears at the start of the day because I was so nervous,” said the Flint fighter after her impressive 11-4 final success.
“It is hard because everyone expects you to win all the time. But when I come out and everyone is screaming for me, it’s impossible not to go for it. Now, I am full of smiles.
“This event is always special to me because it’s in the city where I train and all my family friends get to see me. It is an amazing feeling.
“It is a long journey to Tokyo 2020 and this is the start for me. I am aiming to be the very best me in Toyko so there will be a few bumps on the way.
“However, I feel in good shape and I am constantly improving.
Jones proved far too strong for another of her up and coming challengers, Skylar Park, in the penultimate round.
Canada’s 2016 junior world champion was brushed aside 17-4 as the world number one moved closer to a seventh Grand Prix gold medal.
Jones, who received a first-round bye, opened her campaign with a 10-5 win over Chinese Taipei’s Chia-ling Lo.
Next up was a rematch of last month’s Chinese Taipei Grand Prix clash against Inese Tarvida but the ‘Headhunter’ duly avenged her 5-3 defeat against her Latvian opponent.
Champion Garcia also knocked out Russian Maksim Khramtsov, a winner of this year’s three previous Grand Prix titles.
So, despite missing out on gold Sansum remained upbeat. “I didn’t get a Grand Prix medal for four years,” he said after improving on last month’s bronze in Chinese Taipei.
“I was out for a while with injury and when I came back the style had moved on so I had a bit of catch-up.
“But now my game plan is coming together when I need it. I have a silver and bronze now and with the World Championships in Manchester next year, the gold is coming.”
Sansum reached the final after Egyptian Seif Eissa withdrew at the end of round two.
The home favourite trailed 9-1, fought back to 9-all before Eissa decided he couldn’t continue with what appeared to be a knee problem.
He reached the last four after a series of impressive wins.
He started by defeating Brazil’s Joao Pedro Chaves (16-7), followed up against Julio Ferreira of Portugal (13-11) and then coming from behind in the closing stages to knockout Spaniard Daniel Quesada Barrera 11-10.
Semi-final rival Eissa knocked out Moldova’s Aaron Cook in the last eight, winning on golden point.
Making her Grand Prix debut and first senior appearance for GBT was Yorkshire teenager Kyla Julien at -57kg.
And the Huddersfield youngster impressed onlookers with her all-action style before bowing out 13-11 to Croatia’s 2017 World Championship bronze medallist, Nikita Glasnovic.
“I tried with everything I had,” said Julien. “I was trying to land shots but she was covering them all.
“I threw a kick and looked at the scoreboard hoping it had hit. I should have carried on kicking instead so perhaps a little bit of inexperience.
“Even though I have lost here I know I have come a very long way since last year.”