University Challenge For Double Olympic Medallist Muhammad
15th August 2017
Lutalo Muhammad aims to make it third time lucky when he leads a four strong British taekwondo squad at the World University Games in Taipei starting on August 19.
The double Olympic Games medallist has failed to deliver podium performances at his previous Universiade in 2011 and 2015.
But the confident Londoner is excited at the prospect of trying to win his first medal since his silver success at Rio 2016.
A Middlesex University Sport and Exercise Science student Muhammad will be joined in the Far East by his Manchester based, GB Taekwondo team mates, Courtney Eardley, Jacob Barnett and Pooja Vadhva.
“It feels absolutely amazing to be part of the World University Games team again,” says the 26-year-old former World Grand Prix series champion.
“It’s a tournament I haven’t won yet so I am excited to go out there and give it my best effort.
“It’s also perfect timing because it’s preparation for the new Grand Prix season.
“And I am looking forward to being in an athletes’ village again. As someone who has been to a University Games, it’s the closest you can get to an Olympics.
“And one of the perks of being the veteran of the team is I can hopefully lead the way for the rest of the squad and we can all come back with some shiny metal.”
Muhammad’s taekwondo team mates all joined the GB Academy in Manchester, via the Fighting Chance talent ID initiative, last year.
“I am looking forward to being in an athletes’ village again. As someone who has been to a University Games, it’s the closest you can get to an Olympics.” – Lutalo Muhammad
Eardley has already made her mark at a global level. She was selected for the World Championships in South Korea earlier this summer after winning medals in Croatia last year and then following up earlier in 2017 with bronze at the Belgian Open and silver at the President’s Cup in Athens.
“Having to be an athlete and still doing a degree is pretty difficult,” says the 19-year-old from Doncaster, a first-year student at Sheffield Hallam University.
“It is challenging doing both,” adds Eardley, studying for a Sport and Exercise degree.
“You sometimes have a few hours between training sessions to do a bit of revision. You are tired and you just want to recover.
“But you know you need to prioritise so you have to lock yourself away. And I am the sort of person who likes to be faced with challenges.
“So, even though I complain a bit about having to revise and stuff, if I didn’t have anything to do I would be really bored.”
For Barnett, his selection is another opportunity to add to his student honours. “I went to the European University Games in Croatia last year and managed to pick up a gold medal,” he said. “So, that was good practice for this next challenge.”
Vadhva, whose aim is to represent GB at the 2020 Olympics is studying at Manchester Metropolitan University.
“I am determined now more than ever to continue to fight internationally and to win a gold medal,” she says. “My coaches have also told me that the 2020 Olympics is realistic.”
The Games consists of 10 compulsory sports with 13 compulsory disciplines and up to three optional sports chosen by the host country.
The Universiade is widely recognised as the second largest multi-sport Games in the world after the Olympics with over 10,000 participants from 150+ countries.
*London’s Copper Box Arena is hosting the World Taekwondo Grand Prix from October 20-22. Tickets are now on sale via http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/taekwondo