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Walkden, Munro ensure golden night for GB at the European Championship

20th May 2022

Bianca Walkden in action (right).

Liverpudlian girl power turned on the style to win GB Taekwondo’s first gold medals of the European Championships in Manchester tonight.

Para star Beth Munro marked her Euro debut by adding the K44, -65kg title to last year’s Tokyo 2020 silver medal with a 16-11 win over Turkey’s Secil Er.

And the golden evening was completed when three-time heavyweight world champion, Bianca Walkden defeated Poland’s Ana Kowalczuk 14-3 to claim a fourth Euro crown.

“It’s really hard to win four, but I keep going until Paris (Olympics in 2024) and finish then,” she said.

“One thing that kept me going was Liverpool have the (football) Champions League final next week so I thought I would start it off and hopefully they can become European champions as well.

“The crowd really does lift you up and in the first fight I was so nervous.”

With Rebecca McGowan and Para ace Amy Truesdale also achieving podium finishes, it was a profitable second day for the Mancunian trained squad at the Regional Arena.

Beth Munro on the podium (middle).

McGowan came up just short in her bid to retain the title she won in Bulgaria last year. The Scot, who made a winning return to action from injury at the recent Swedish Open, was on course to claim another gold medal.

But after reaching the semi-finals at -73kg, she lost 31-15 to French rival, Althea Laurin and had to settle for bronze.

“I started down a little bit and did some good work to get some points back,” said McGowan. “I was unlucky with some things but I made some mistakes and she capitalized on them.

“But I will take bronze and I will take the learning I got from it.  I’ll use it to take forward into the Grand Prix in Rome in a fortnight’s time.”

The other British medal came from former Paralympic World and European champion, Amy Truesdale. She too progressed to the last four of the K44, +65kg but lost 12-2 against Spaniard Dalia Morena Santiago.

Rebecca McGowan in between rounds.

Huddersfield’s Caden Cunningham and Londoner Mo Nour both exited at the last eight stage of their respective events but gained valuable experience to take forward.

Cunningham, 20, fell agonizingly short of the -87kg semi-finals, losing on golden point to Partik Divkovic, Slovenia’s former world junior champion.

Cunningham from Huddersfield had won their previous two meetings including at this season’s Belgian Open.

“Both those fights were cagey and it was about trying to open him up early on and then work in my strengths.

“This time he didn’t give me anything and played a very tight game. I knew he would play the same type of game but he was clearly stricter with himself.

“He did surprise me in golden point by coming at me. As I switched to kicking he got his leg up first and made contact with the body: the first shot he scored. So, it worked out for him.

“But these Europeans don’t define my career; there are more titles and medals to win.”

Nour from Roehampton was also close to progressing but lost 23-20 to French international, Cyrian Ravet.

And the narrow defeat was placed into perspective when Ravet defeated Ireland’s Tokyo Olympian, Jack Woolley, 12-5, in the -54kg showpiece.

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