Lauren Williams gives GB Taekwondo golden start to World Grand Prix
19th October 2018
Lauren Williams captured GB Taekwondo’s first gold medal of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester tonight (Friday) with a further medal for teammate Bradly Sinden.
In a rematch of their Moscow GP head-to-head earlier this year Welsh star Williams gained revenge over Croatia’s Matea Jelic in the -67kg final.
The 19-year-old from Blackwood, Gwent won 15-9 collecting half of her points with punches.
Earlier Williams survived a major scare in her last 16 match against Jordan’s Julyann Al-Sadeq.
She trailed the 2018 Asian gold medallist 15-10 and 18-14 in the closing stages of the final round before recovering to win 22-20 with Al-Sadeq finally disqualified for excessive penalties.
“I have sat in the crowd here in Manchester before with its incredible atmosphere thinking how much I would love to compete here,” said Williams after her title win.
“I am finally here so it’s another goal ticked off. I have not had the best of runs in the Grand Prixs leading up to this.
“But this has been perfect to make me realise why I am here.
“It’s not been a bad year but I always want better. I know there is so much more I can do. Again this is another step in the right direction.”
Sinden’s third -68kg Grand Prix medal-just 12 months after his first -included a ‘Battle of Britain’ quarter-final success over teammate Josh Calland.
But in a cagey semi-final the Yorkshire fighter, 20, lost 19-13 against Iran’s Mirhashem Hosseini.
“Unless you win there is always disappointment,” said Doncaster born Sinden. “Those are the standards me and my coach set.
“I am going in the right direction but I’ll keep pushing. Bronze is good but I want to bring home the gold.”
Double Olympic medallist Lutalo Muhammad marked his heavyweight debut by reaching the quarter-finals at +80kg.
The ‘Walthamstow Warrior’ fought bravely before bowing out 33-27 against 2018 US Open champion, Hongyi Sun from China.
”It is difficult, to say the least to lose in front of a home crowd,” he said. “They gave me so much energy and so much support.
“But there are no excuses. The Chinese athlete was excellent and gave me a good fight. I came close but I made a few mistakes and unfortunately, they were costly.”
“This is combat -you jump in the shower you are going to get wet.
“In spite of all that I felt very confident. I wasn’t at my best but I will put the mistakes right and come back even stronger.”
“It is going to take me a few months to be a strong challenger to these heavyweights.
“I was very confident in the skills I bring from the welterweight division could cause problems. I think I did cause problems but unfortunately not enough”
There was disappointment too for Mahama Cho, who along with Muhammad, won gold at the first ever Grand Prix in Manchester five years ago.
The 2017 World Championship bronze medallist lost 17-13 against Turkey’s Emre Aresli in the last 16.
And Londoner Cho admitted his vision rather than his opponent’s technique led to his downfall.
“In the second round I thought I was winning,” he explained.” I looked up at the scoreboard and saw ‘red’ and then looked down at my body armour.
“I thought ‘how the heck did you score only to realise I was behind on points and wearing blue.
“I thought I was comfortable when in fact I needed to work. It was just minor concentration for a split second.
“But that was a prime example of you having to be on it for three rounds. If you don’t it can easily slip away. It was like doing a colouring book for a few seconds.”
Calland is back in the GB Academy after a brief spell away from the sport.
The Liverpool born fighter’s 19-13, first round win over Jaouad Achab, Belgian’s former world champion and number two seed was one of the shocks of the tournament.
Calland followed up by knocking out 2017 world bronze medallist, Vladimir Dalakliev of Bulgaria 20-10 before his points fest against Sinden.
“Brad and I know each other really well so we knew how each other was going to fight,” he said.
“Obviously he got the result but I am happy with how I performed even in the quarter-final.
“It was great to perform in front of the home fans. I just wanted to give something back to all the fans who have supported me.”
Christian McNeish was GB’s third representative at -68kg and battled hard before losing to Spain’s Javier Perez Polo.
“It was a tough match,” agreed the reigning European champion after his 16-8 defeat. “I have fought him a few times but he was the better man this time.
“I didn’t fight my best, I was rushed and lost my head.”
Teenager Molly Dunbavin acquitted herself well on her Grand Prix debut and also had to contend with equipment issues before bowing out against America’s London 2012 bronze medallist, Paige McPherson, 11 years her senior.
Hassan Haider (Falkirk)
Jordyn Smith (Carronshire), Maddison Moore (Blakedown)
Rebecca McGowan (Dumbarton), Bianca Walkden (Liverpool).