The Cho-sen One? Mahama ‘All To Play For’ In Battle For Rio
Heavyweight Mahama Cho returns to action this weekend refusing to accept he’s in pole position for Olympic Games selection.
Cho is one of 10 GB Taekwondo players, including 2015 world champion, Bianca Walkden, competing at the Dutch Open in Eindhoven.
The ’Stockwell Slayer’ is the only senior GB athlete to have fought in 2016, brilliantly securing Team GB a place in the +80kg category at Rio 2016 this summer with victory at the European Olympic qualification tournament in Turkey back in January.
Cho’s win ensured four GB athletes will compete in South America after weight division qualification for male -80kg plus female -57kg and +73kg. Individuals won’t be named in the slots until June.
“The pressure is still on because there are important tournaments leading up to Olympic selection,” said the 26-year-old Manchester based Londoner. “We have got the spot but now I have got to prove I am the guy to go.
“So, there is still a lot of work to do and still a lot of players involved. I am not the only heavyweight around in the squad.
“We’ve got Levi (Goodridge) and Lyle (Walker) in the mix as well; players who can also challenge for that spot.
“So, I have got to stay fit, keep healthy and keep kicking,” smiles the 2013 Dutch Open champion. “I’m just trying to progress as much as I can.”
Olympic champion Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad, World Grand Prix series winner in Mexico last December, will have a delayed start to their 2016 campaign as they continue their rehabilitation from minor injuries.
But with the German Open, President’s Cup and the European Championships taking place in the next two months, there’s no rush to get them back on the mat.
In the absence of London 2012 bronze medallist Muhammad, Damon Sansum has chance to stake a claim for Olympic spot at -80kg. And the 2015 World Championship silver medallist will defend his Dutch title at -80kg in Eindhoven.
Beijing Olympian Michael Harvey hopes 2016 will bring a return to the form that saw him crowned European champion in 2012, fighting in the -68kg division depleted by last year’s retirements of London Olympian Martin Stamper and Ruebyn Richards.
Liverpudlian heavyweight Walkden and 2015 World Championship bronze medallist, Rachelle Booth, are the two female fighters in the squad. Walkden won a Dutch Open title as a youth in 2008 and has since claimed senior bronze and silver medals.
Wiganer Booth returns to action for the first time since the World Grand Prix in Manchester last October, fighting at -62kg.
Saturday (March 12):
-58kg: Feyi Pearce (Croydon); Archie Waldock (Southampton)
-68kg: Ben Haines (Portsmouth), Michael Harvey (Manchester).
-80kg: Levi Goodridge (Farnborough), Damon Sansum (Elgin)
Sunday (March 13):
–74kg: Christian McNeish (Plaistow)
+87kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
-62kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan)
+73kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)