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Walkden on Brink of Another Grand Prix Crown

22nd November 2018

Bianca Walkden will fight for a World Grand Prix gold medal tomorrow (Friday) after a mixed bag of results for GB Taekwondo fighters on the opening day of competition in Fujairah.

The double world champion capped a gruelling but impressive day of performances with a 20-5 semi-final win over Turkey’s Nafia Kus.

Walkden, last year’s overall series winner, will now hope to make it third time lucky when she fights Shuyin Zheng of China for the +67kg title.

The 27-year-old has secured silver medals twice in a Grand Prix final round in 2018 including last month’s 9-7 defeat to China’s Shuyin Zheng in Manchester.

“It was such a tough day,” said Walkden. “I was first match on this morning but managed to get through that quite comfortably.

“In the second fight, my opponent suffered a freak accident in the first minute of the first round. But I was winning 2-1 at the time so a win is a win,” she laughed.

“In the semi-final, it’s always tough against Kus and I didn’t start well in the opening two rounds. But I was relentless in the third round and I upped my intensity.

“I was determined to get through so I am really happy.”

Walkden’s day began with a 21-3 success against Zheng’s compatriot, Pan Gao, a bronze medallist in Manchester and the reigning Asian Championship title holder.

Next up was a scheduled quarter-final against Da-Bin Lee though Walkden’s South Korean opponent withdrew through injury.

Fellow world number one Jade Jones was chasing her third -57kg GP gold medal of the season. But it wasn’t meant to be for the double Olympic champion as she had a quarter-final exit against Croatia’a Nikita Glasnovic 11-7.

Fellow Welsh star Lauren Williams was full of optimism going into her bout against Jan-di Kim at -67kg. The 19-year-old twice European champion was on the cusp of the last eight only to lose on golden point to her South Korean rival.

Heavyweight Mahama Cho and Bradley Sinden (-68kg) progressed to the quarter-finals of their respective competitions.

However, having enjoyed a walkover against Spain’s Joel Gonzalez Bonilla, the Doncaster fighter went down 35-21 against Yu-Jen Huang of Chinese Taipei.

At the same weight, fellow Brit, Christian McNeish, lost his opening bout against South Korean, Seok-bae Kim 37-23.

Londoner Cho, runner-up at the Paris Open last weekend, defeated London Olympic silver medallist and former world champion, Anthony Obame, 8-7 in his first contest.

But he then suffered the same fate as McNeish and Williams beaten by a South Korean rival, Kyo-don In 20-18.

Damon Sansum, a Grand Prix finalist in Manchester, lost out 23-13 to Uzbekistan’s Nikita Rafalovich in the opening round.

See the GB Taekwondo stars live in action next May as the 2019 World Championships come to Manchester! Click here for tickets and more info

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