Plenty Of Hard Work Ahead Before Athletes Named For Rio 2016
GB Taekwondo’s Rio 2016 hopefuls can’t rest on their laurels despite qualifying four weight categories for this summer’s Olympic Games.
Only France and Azerbaijan in Europe have equalled the Manchester trained squad’s total-a feat described by GB Performance Director Gary Hall as “significant.”
“Europe is one of the strongest continents for taekwondo so it is a great achievement,” confirmed Hall. “In doing so, we also qualified four athletes in the top 10 world rankings, including a world number one (Jade Jones) and two world number threes (Bianca Walkden and Lutalo Muhammad).
“It’s only natural we wanted more athletes through but I am sure the programme can deliver those extra places in the next four year cycle towards Tokyo.”
London raised heavyweight, Mahama Cho, sealed the +80kg spot by winning last Sunday’s European qualification tournament in Istanbul, including victory over Italy’s Olympic champion, Carlo Moletta, on his way to the gold medal. London 2012 golden girl, Jones, World Champion, Walkden, and 2015 World Grand Prix series winner, Muhammad, had previously qualified the -57kg, +67kg and -80kg weight divisions.
The naming of athletes to compete in Rio won’t take place until early June. “And there are plenty of tournaments before then,” confirmed Hall. “In the last three years we’ve probably fought more often than we would have liked.
“But that’s the way the international circuit has gone. So, the next four or five months gives us great chance to prepare and to go through every detail of an athlete’s preparation.”
However, the main Rio contenders and their equally determined team mates still have plenty of competitions ahead of them including the Dutch and German Opens, the inaugural President’s Cup and the European Championships.
On Cho’s success, Hall added:”He was unlucky to miss out on automatic qualification for the Grand Prix series final in Mexico because one of his rivals competed at the World Military Games just before the seedings closed.
“So, to get over that disappointment, go to the European qualification tournament, beat the Olympic champion in the semi-finals and then win the gold is a fantastic result. To take out Molfetta is no mean feat as he is one of the most successful players in the sport.
“But I know Cho is the first to thank the help of his team mates for helping achieve what he did in Turkey. They came in over Christmas and New Year to train with Cho and help make it happen.
“Cho also worked with Dr Steve Peters and Sarah Broadhead to make sure he was mentally prepared as well as physically prepared. It was a team effort and we can all feel proud.”