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Hall’s Well for GB Taekwondo’s Quality Street Squad

27th May 2019

Performance Director Gary Hall has hailed GB Taekwondo’s “quality not quantity” programme as its athletes achieving a pre-tournament, two to five medal target at the recent World Championships in Manchester.

Three of the four medals won yielded world titles for Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden and Bradly Sinden.

A bronze from 16-year-old Aaliyah Powell was the cherry on top for the Manchester-based squad finishing among the top five nations in both men’s and women’s competitions.

Hall also launched a robust defence of tactics deployed by Walkden to win her record-breaking third world gold medal.

“Overall, I am delighted we achieved the medal target we set out,” he said.

“It was ambitious. To get three of those as gold medals were outstanding and in line with our strategic aims of the programme.

“We are a quality programme, not a quantity programme and it just demonstrates the quality of medals this team is now winning.

“They were stunning performance and a great testament to the team that works hard across both the men’s and women’s programme.

“Bradly made history by becoming the first out of hundreds of British males who have tried over 40 years to become a world champion.

“His talent, training, preparation and committed hard work have paid off.

“He has set an unbelievably high bar for future British ale athletes to follow.”

Sinden, 20, from Doncaster is the only fighter to have beaten South Korea’s multi-world champion Lee Dae Hoon since the Rio Olympics.

“That semi-final win was one of the performances of the championships and gives Brad a great chance, through the Olympic ranking points achieved, to now qualify for Tokyo 2020.”

Liverpool heavyweight Walkden was stung by criticism following her dramatic win over China’s Olympic champion, Shuyin Zheng in the +73kg final.

Hall has shrugged off the post-match controversy and says Walkden’s latest global title is every bit as credible and merited as her wins in 2015 and 2017.

“Bianca didn’t want to win like that,” said Hall. “She wanted to beat her in a different kind of way.

“But when the fight isn’t opening up, as a fighter you have got to make that happen. That’s what Bianca did, and she did it brilliantly.

“It is sad and unfortunate for the Chinese player. But you must play to win, and Bianca played within the rules.

“There are lots of videos and lots of publicity about how you can win by scoring points with kicks to the head and the body.

“But if you get 10 penalty points you will be disqualified. She could see the Chinese girl had seven penalty points because of her negative play.

“It’s a bit like football. If you pick up a yellow card you know if you collect another one you are going to be out of the game. The Chinese girl knew at seven she only had three yellow cards to go.

“Bianca realised she had to force the fight and to open it up to score points.

“For me, that is a stunning sense of presence under pressure. She saw a way to win and then to go for that win was an outstanding mature athlete performance.

“The referee spoke to the Chinese athlete when she was on seven minus points not to do it anymore. Yet she continued to do it.

“Bianca was offensive. She went for the victory and the Chinese girl didn’t play the game she should have played to close it off.

“When you see someone tiring and trying to turn it into a defensive game and you still have the fitness and got the aggression, you are going to go for it.

“There was 1:48 left on the clock in the third round and Zheng was three points from disqualification Bianca forced the pace and the Chinese girl didn’t stay on her game plan.”

After two Olympic titles Welsh golden wonder Jones finally completed her World Championship set with gold at -57kg having won silver in 2011 and bronze two years ago.

The 26-year-old world number one from Flint also boasts the distinction of currently holding taekwondo’s triple crown: World, Olympic and European titles.

And Hall says Jones remains just as determined to add further major medals including Tokyo 2020 gold.

“Jade wants to cement her place in taekwondo history and she will set her standards high,” added Hall.

“She is an exceptionally talented athlete, a legend of the sport and still at the top end of her game with more development to come along.

“It’s great for the programme but a little unfortunate for the rest of the world because Jade is looking for that third Olympic gold.

“And while the athletes deserve immense credit for their performances, they will be the first to agree their successes go hand in hand with the exceptional work of our team including coaches, medical and sports science personnel and all the other support staff.”

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