JONES, MUHAMMAD – THE BEST IN BRITAIN
Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad rounded off a memorable year by being crowned GB Taekwondo female and male athletes of the year.
Double Olympic champion Jones beat off competition from World Champion and Rio bronze medallist, Bianca Walkden, and World Junior title winner, Lauren Williams, to scoop her latest accolade.
In the space of 10 days the 23-year-old from Flint has been crown WTF World Grand Prix champion, the world governing body’s female athlete of 2016 and BBC Cymru Wales Sports Personality of the Year.
Jones collected her latest honour at the GB Taekwondo end of year presentation evening in Manchester.
“No one in taekwondo has ever got three Olympic gold medals,” she said when asked about her future.
“So, it makes me even more hungry to go to Tokyo and be the only one to do it. That would be amazing.”
Londoner Muhammad won the hearts of a nation with an emotional speech following his agonising last gasp defeat by Ivory Coast’s Cheick Sallah Cisse in the Rio 2016 -80kg final.
Having to settle for silver to add to his London 2012 bronze medal, Muhammad is determined to make it third time lucky at Tokyo 2020.
“How it all ended was pretty devastating,” he admitted. “I just wanted to dig a big hole and sink in it.
“But getting the all support from the public, my team mates and the coaches, I can look back with a more positive perspective.
“I am very excited about becoming the first British male to win a World Championship next year and there are other exciting goals. And I wouldn’t mind winning that gold medal in Tokyo.”
Mancunian and former Olympic competitor, Paul Green, received Coach of the Year. Green masterminded Welsh wonder Jones’ retention of her Olympic title.
GB Taekwondo Performance Director, Gary Hall, rounded off the night with a first ever ‘Special Achievement Award.’ The accolade went to Barry Wright, a volunteer with the National programme ever since it moved to Manchester in 2007.