Jones Scoops Grand Prix Bronze As Great Britain Secure Three Places For Rio 2016
Jade Jones secured a bronze medal in her final fight of 2015 as Great Britain qualified three weight divisions for next summer’s Rio Olympic Games at the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix finals in Mexico City.
London 2012 golden girl Jones, who finishes the year as world number one, lost in the semi-finals of the -57kg weight category to eventual champion, Hedaya Malak of Egypt.
However, the 22-year-old from Flint ensured she wouldn’t finish empty handed by defeating Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic to clinch third spot.
GB team mate and World Champion, Bianca Walkden, lost in the last eight to Shuyin Zheng of China who also went on to claim gold in the +67kg heavyweight final. Liverpudlian Walkden and Lutalo Muhammad, a -80kg title winner last Saturday, both end the year ranked third in their respective weight groups.
GB Performance Director, Gary Hall, saluted his stars’ performances in Mexico and also the rest of the GB Academy athletes for their efforts throughout the past 12 months.
“GB Taekwondo has had another fantastic year of performances, progress and results and I am immensely proud and thankful to all the athletes, coaches and support team who made this year so special,” said Hall.
“Since Taekwondo has been an Olympic sport (Sydney 2000) GB has only ever qualified one spot for the Games via a World qualification route.
“So, to now have qualified three places for Rio all within the top six ranked players in the World is testament to the World Class programme we have in Manchester.
“We will now look to qualify a fourth spot for Rio via a European Qualification tournament next year and most of the Christmas and New Year period will be consumed doing our best to achieve this.”
Welsh ace Jones, looking to defend the title she won in 2014, made a promising start to her Mexico campaign beating Floriane Liborio of France. But she suffered a rare power failure in the last four against Malak who went on to beat Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez for gold.
“I have had a busy but great year winning seven golds in nine events which shows I can win at any level,” said the reigning European Games champion.
“I am also proud to finish the year as world number one and I will now concentrate on making more improvement’s so I can be at my very best, if selected, when the Rio Games comes around.”
Despite defeat Walkden remained in upbeat mood: “I am thrilled to have qualified a spot for the Rio Olympics particularly with the year I have had when most of it was about coming back from injuries.
“I am now going to give my all to make sure I can prepare to be the best I can be for next year and hopefully Olympic selection.”