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‘Karate Kid’ Jordan Thomas Earns Fighting Chance at New Olympic Sport

24th January 2022

FORMER world karate champion Jordan Thomas will now be getting his kicks from taekwondo in a bid to become a first time Olympian.

Thomas, 29, is one of 11 new fighters, including seven teenagers, selected to join the GB Taekwondo World Class Performance programme through the Fighting Chance talent identification initiative.

However, the 2016 world gold medallist and 2014 European champion is no stranger to the Manchester set-up having initially transitioned through a UK Sport funded pilot programme in 2017.

The Luton raised fighter narrowly missed qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as karate made its debut at the Games.

Now, he is part of the Paris 2024 cycle and looking to make his mark in taekwondo-the only Olympic and Paralympic striking martial art to offer a career path to athletes.

“Life is about facing new challenges,” said Thomas whose father William was a world champion in 1992.

“And this is definitely going to be a challenge starting in a new sport.  But what we do today affects tomorrow.

“We do things with purpose and that’s how I plan to go on,” added Thomas who is expected to compete at the -68kg, middleweight category.

The latest Fighting Chance ID programme was launched off the back of five Olympic and Paralympic taekwondo medals in Japan.

Dubbed the ‘Olympic Bounce’, a record 297 applicants registered an expression of interest to join the scheme.

The previous highest figure was 223 back in 2018 – an increase of 33 percent. It is a near 60 percent jump from four years ago when 193 applied.

Previous successful applicants include Olympic silver medallist Lauren Williams and Damon Sansum-2015 world championship runner-up-who crossed over from big-hitting careers as kickboxers.

Joining Thomas from karate is 20-year-old Mason Sherman who will integrate into the +80kg division.

Cameron Booth from Nottingham, the 2015 European Junior bronze medallist re-joins the programme while: Joshua Tobin, Leo Speight, Morgan Curtis, Poppy Mackay, Adelaide Barnes, Adele Williamson and Leyla Palser have progressed via the Development Programme.

The full list of graduates is:

-80kg, Sohrab Alipour

-57kg, Adelaide Barnes

-68kg, Cameron Booth

+67kg, Morgan Curtis

+67kg, Poppy Mackay

-57kg, Leyla Palser

+80kg, Mason Sherman

-68kg, Leo Speight

-68kg, Jordan Thomas

-68kg, Joshua Tobin

-67kg, Adele Williamson

But their selection doesn’t close the door on other athletes looking to choose taekwondo as their sporting pathway.

And while a background in martial arts would be useful, it is not essential for GB Taekwondo to consider fighters on their Talent Scout Portal.

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