Golden Girls Jones And Walkden On Their Marks For Manchester World Taekwondo Grand Prix
Olympic champion Jade Jones and World gold medallist Bianca Walkden head up a formidable Great Britain squad for the World Taekwondo Federation World Grand Prix in Manchester from October 16-18.
The event forms part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio series, which will feature over 30 world class sports events the length and breadth of the UK and support British athletes’ preparation and qualification for Rio 2016.
GB Performance Director Gary Hall has named 16 athletes – including six wild cards – for the final competitive outing on home soil before next summer’s Rio Olympic Games.
World Championship silver and bronze medallists, Damon Sansum and Rachelle Booth, plus European Games winner, Charlie Maddock also get their latest opportunity to impress.
London 2012 poster girl Jones has already qualified the -57kg spot for her country but the world number one is looking for a rare victory in front of a Manchester crowd.
She finished with bronze at the 2012 European Championships and has two silver medals to show for her previous Grand Prix appearances in the city.
But after victory last time out at the Grand Prix in Samsun, Turkey, the 22-year-old is hungry for more success. And the GB chief believes his Manchester trained squad can use the home crowd at the Regional Arena on the Etihad Campus to its advantage.
“The atmosphere will be like a cauldron so I am looking forward to some great performances because the team is in a good vein of form,” said Hall. “There is added pressure because it is on home soil but it is great preparation for the Rio Olympics.
“We have got one of the strongest squads in the world and once we get them into the Grand Prix arena they go out and give it their all. And they will in front of the Manchester crowd.
“We are looking to them to give us that additional boost and drive. It is a passionate taekwondo crowd and we hope it will happen again this time round.”
Heavyweight Mahama Cho and London 2012 bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad struck gold when Manchester hosted the inaugural Grand Prix in 2013.
Welsh star Jones won silver but was Britain’s only medal winner at last year’s Manchester World Grand Prix.
“That’s sometimes how sport plays out,” added Hall. “We had four quarter-finalists and some very close matches which just shows the level of competition.
“There will be top players in every category so it will be a tough challenge. But our athletes will love that.
“This tournament is important on so many fronts. Jade has qualified a spot at -57kg for Rio but it is still very close in some categories.
“The athletes are also fighting for the future because these ranking points will carry over into the next Olympic cycle. So, for the wilds cards we’ve selected, it is important for them to make a mark early doors so they can get into next year’s Grand Prix.
“Our team did extremely well at the last Grand Prix in Turkey, particularly the girls who absolutely smashed it.
“Now, it’s Manchester and the team is really up for it. It is going to be a massive three days for us.”
To watch Olympic champion Jade Jones, World Championship gold medallist, Bianca Walkden, and Britain’s other top stars fighting on home territory for the last time before next year’s Olympics, take in the action at Manchester’s edition of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix from October 16-18. Tickets are now on sale at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp
GB squad for WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix, Regional Arena, Manchester, October 16-18:
-58kg: Josh Calland (Liverpool), Max Cater (Southampton)
-68kg: Jordan Gayle (Manchester), Michael Harvey (Manchester), Martin Stamper (Liverpool)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow), Damon Sansum (Elgin), Tom Smith (Poplar)
+80kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell), Lyle Walker (Law)
-49kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent), Abigail Stones (Liverpool)
-57kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan), Jade Jones (Flint)
-67kg: Carla Summerhill (Glasgow)
+67kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
More information about tickets and the full Grand Prix schedule is available on the event website www.taekwondogp.com