Welsh wonder Lauren Williams leads Great Britain 1-2-3 at World Taekwondo Grand Prix.
20th October 2017
Lauren Williams spear headed a full set of GB Taekwondo medals in the opening night of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix at the Copper Box Arena in London.
The 18-year-old Welsh star rocked the Box with a run of stunning, high octane displays, none better than a crushing 43-23 victory over shell-shocked Ivory Coast rival, Ruth Gbabgi, in the final of the -67kg division.
No opponent could live with the double Junior World Champion’s power on only her second ever GP appearance.
Fellow teenager Bradley Sinden blitzed two former world champions on his way to the final of the -68kg division. And he pushed Jordan’s Rio 2016 Olympic champion, Ahmed Abughaush, to golden point before losing in over time.
Heavyweight Mahama Cho completed the hat-trick of podium placings with bronze at +80kg.
Williams also pocketed a cheque for €5,000 to go with her gold; Sinden collected €3,000 and Cho €1,000.
However, it was ‘Blackwood Belter’ Williams who stole the show for a partisan home crown in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“That means so much to me because it is such a big competition,” said Williams.
‘I beat some top girls along the way and I am lost for words to be honest.
“I was on it all day and that’s the first time, I think, I have enjoyed a competition. What worked for me was I didn’t put any of the other girls above me.
“I just focussed on my own game plan and it worked.”
Williams, a 32-26 semi-final winner over Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Paige McPherson, had failed to win a medal in her only other Grand Prix in Moscow last August.
This time she made no mistakes though it was heart in mouth stuff in the last eight against reigning world title holder, Nur Tatar.
Williams somehow managed to force golden point extra time before handing the double Olympic medallist a stunning defeat.
Her opening win over Rabia Guelec was a demonstration of power and aggression for the entire nine minutes.
And the German did well to hang on until the twice Junior World Champion powered away to win 23-8.
Sinden, who won a World Championship bronze medallist earlier this year, was disappointed with his silver. “The gold could have been mine but for the last few seconds,” said the Doncaster prospect.
“However, it’s all a learning curve and I know I produced some really good performances.”
The first points of his final weren’t scored until 15 seconds from the end of the second round.
And Sinden went into the last three minutes with a 2-1 advantage. He then led 5-3 only for his opponent to force golden point.
To reach the final, the Yorkshire prospect knocked out twice world champion and London 2012 Olympian Joel Gonzalez Bonilla in the penultimate round.
Sinden opened his campaign with an epic first round encounter with GB team mate, Christian McNeish from Plaistow.
He then demolished Croatian Brecic Lovre 31-21 before knocking out number one seed, Jaouad Achab of Belgium, the 2015 world champion in the last eight.
It was nerve-wracking stuff as Sinden, coached by London 2012 Olympian, Martin Stamper, came from behind in the final round to force extra time and then claim victory in over time.
Cho, fighting in front of his own fans, fell to an 8-5 semi-final defeat against giant Russian, Rafail Aiukaev after leading going into the final half minute.
“Towards the end I wanted to contain him and try to make him make a mistake,” said the World Championship silver medallist and Rio 2016 Olympian. “But he did it better than I did.
“It was always going to be tough against a very tall opponent.
“It would have been great to come away with a gold medal especially with my family watching.
“But to get another medal which is a positive. And I’ll be ready for the Grand Prix final in Ivory Coast later this year,”
Great Britain’s Peter Longobardi-Radford, a recent winner of the President’s Cup in Las Vegas, was beating Vladimir Dalaklev until the closing seconds of their -68kg bout only to be caught by the Bulgarian’s winning shot.
Watch Olympic medallists Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden compete at the London edition of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix, which takes place in the Copper Box Arena from October 20-22.
-58kg: Max Cater (Lewisham), Hassan Haider (Falkirk)
-57kg: Jade Jones (Flint)
+67kg: Jade Slavin (Spennymoor), Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
-80kg: Damon Sansum (Elgin)
-49kg: Courtney Eardley (Wakefield), Taylor Goodall (Runcorn).