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Walkden sets sight on Tokyo after regaining European title

11th April 2021

Bianca Walkden is one title away from completing taekwondo’s triple crown after adding European gold in Bulgaria tonight (Sunday) to her 2019 world title.

For the happy Liverpool heavyweight, it was her third Euro crown, equalling the achievement of GB Taekwondo teammate Jade Jones from two days earlier.

Now Walkden, whose previous wins came in 2014 and 2016, has sights on a first Olympic gold after her bronze medal at Rio 2016.

And it was double joy for the Manchester trained squad on the final day of competition in Sofia.

Scotland’s Rebecca McGowan won the -73kg title, again proving too strong for Serbia’s 2012 Olympic champion, Milica Mandic.

The GB squad finished with five medals, including three golds, to finish second team overall but on top of the pile in the female competition.

Walkden’s route to the +73kg title was a stranger one than usual as she was denied a final shot at Aleksandra Kowalczuk when the Pole forfeited the match through injury.

However, the triple world champion and 2018 Euro silver medallist, said: “I am really happy to get another title and become a three-time European champion, especially after the year we have had.

“Because we haven’t had that many competitions, it was just about getting out there and doing my best to make sure I am in great shape for the Olympics.

“When the National Anthem was playing, I just thought this is one step closer to Tokyo. Hopefully, I can hear the same anthem at the Olympics.

“I give my soul to training because I want to be the best. I believe in the work I have done and always back myself to win.”

Walkden, who dropped only three points in her matches, added: “We (Walkden and Jones) are like a double act.

“To win with my best friend and become European champion again is great. Having seen Jade win two days ago I wanted the same feeling.

“GB Taekwondo has done everything to get us back into the ring safely and to make sure we are still the best. You can see that has paid off.

“We train to be the best and we are pushed to be the best. Results like this show we are doing the right things.”

McGowan, not 21 until next month, recorded four victories including a 20-14 success over experienced Mandic. They previously met at the recent Sofia Open when McGowan won again but eventually finished with silver.

This time she made no mistake.

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