Grand Slam silver linings as GB fighters qualify five places for Tokyo 2020
20th December 2019
There were a number of memorable performances by GB at the Grand Slam in Wuxi, China and they were topped off by a silver lining to the heavyweight division by Mahama Cho.
The determined Londoner lost to South Korea’s Kyo-Don In the +80kg final.
But he knocked out Jian Tian of China in the Semi-Finals having also defeated Olympic champion Radik Isaev of Azerbaijan in the Quarter Final.
In doing so, Cho qualified the +80kg weight division for Tokyo 2020 to go with earlier qualifications for the Manchester trained squad at male -68kg and three female categories at -57kg, -67kg and +67kg.
Double Olympic champion Jade Jones and triple world title winner, Bianca Walkden, also finished runner-up in their weight divisions.
“I came out here with the hope of getting a qualification spot for GB,” said Cho after finishing runner-up to Kyo-Don In of South Korea.
“It feels great to put down a performance that was good enough to do the job.
“Beating the likes of the reigning Olympic champion is not something everyone can say.
“I fought against him in the semi-final in Rio, he beat me and went onto win the Olympics but this year I had the upper hand.
“It just goes to show it’s all your mental ability.
I was able to put down a good performance due to the mental work I have been doing and the support of the team around me, from the Coaches to the Physiotherapists, as well as, the Strength and Conditioning Coaches and the Performance Director.”
Jones defeated Ah-Reum Lee of South Korea in the semi-finals but missed out on gold against home favourite, Lijun Zhou.
“It was good to end the year on the podium at such a prestigious event with the best players in the world, but just obviously disappointed it wasn’t gold,” said Welsh star Jones.
“I am pleased with my performances throughout the day. I felt sharp and tactically on it for my first few fights.
“I am just gutted with the final as I had it nailed in the first round, and then mentally switched off in the second round and that cost me the match.
“But overall I made lots of improvements and learnt a lot of important lessons that I am excited to take into the next year and the Olympics.”
Each of the runners-up collected cheques for $20,000 in the sport’s richest tournament.
“I am happy to get a bit of cash and finally switch off and enjoy my Christmas break with my family, ready to re-charge and move up the gears even more next year as we prepare for the Olympics.”
Liverpudlian Walkden defeated her great Chinese rival, Shuyin Zheng, in the semi-finals-her first win since their World Championship final meeting in Manchester back in May. But she missed out to Da-Bin Lee of South Korea in the final.
Christian McNeish came close to adding to GB’s medal tally but lost his bronze medal match against China’s Wenye Lin.
Double Olympic medallist, Lutalo Muhammad reached the last 16 at +80kg before losing to South Korean Lee Seung Hwan.
Youngster Mason Yarrow also made his Grand Slam debut but lost out to Yichao Wu of China in the last 16.
As for teammates Bradly Sinden and Lauren Williams, both finished their day in the Quarter Finals.