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Williams Ready to Follow in Walkden’s Grand Slam Footsteps

5th January 2017

Lauren Williams will be inspired by teammate Bianca Walkden’s trail-blazing success when she competes at the second World Taekwondo Champions’ Grand Slam event in China tomorrow. (Saturday)

World number one Walkden won the heavyweight title and a record-breaking £52,000 first prize at last weekend’s inaugural competition in Wuxi.

Now, it’s the turn of 2016 European Championship gold medallist, Williams.

“I haven’t been as confident going into this competition,” admitted the 18-year-old Welsh star.

“However, seeing Bianca take away the gold medal has given me that extra bit of motivation.

“I need to get myself in the right headspace to put in the best performance I can. So, it has made me a lot more excited to compete.

“Being a part of the Grand Slam series is a huge honour. To think that I am among the “best of the best” after the journey I have had is incredible.

“It only sunk in a few weeks ago that even some of the top top players haven’t been able to qualify for this event.

“Knowing that I am here amongst the ones who have is like a dream come true.”

Walkden aims to put her winnings towards a new house. And Williams says the money on offer is a major draw.

“Getting a big prize like this would mean more to me than I can explain,” added the double world junior champion.

“My family and I have sacrificed a lot to get me to this position. So, to be able to start getting recognised and rewarded for such work over the years is phenomenal.”

Williams is also excited by the prospect of competing in the exciting new tournament that aims to raise taekwondo’s profile.

“I love a big atmosphere in the stadium,” she said. “It really does drive me to perform in front of a bigger crowd.

“It reminds me of fight nights I used to have in kickboxing where all eyes were on you and everyone was shouting for at least one fighter.

“It’s a good vibe and gives you a really good buzz. That energy during a fight is why I love the sport.”

Williams is the second of five GB Taekwondo fighters taking part in the Champions series.

Mahama Cho (+80kg, January 13), Charlie Maddock (-49kg, January 13) and Jade Jones (-57kg, January 20) will have their shots at a cash jackpot in the coming weeks.

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