Williams so close to gold but sterling performance brings silver reward for Welsh star
Lauren Williams added her name to Team GB’s Olympic taekwondo medal roll of honour in Tokyo today (Monday) but fell fractionally short in her attempt to strike gold.
Twenty-four hours after team mate Bradly Sinden finished runner-up in the -68kg weight division, Welsh wonder Williams captured her own silver medal at -67kg.
Like Sinden too, the 22-year-old was within touching distance of becoming Olympic champion in a dramatic contest with Croatia’s number one seed, Matea Jelic.
But after leading 21-15 with 18 seconds left and 21-17 with 14 seconds to go, Williams eventually succumbed 25-22.
“I had her but I let it go,” sighed Williams after the duo’s latest enthralling contest. “I made a mistake and messed up so I have got accept that.
“It is a mental block I have got to get over. Hopefully, it won’t happen again.
“I knew I was winning but I didn’t know how long was left.
“I didn’t go out there to lose, I went out there to win a gold medal. I tried my best and I am very happy with how I performed,” she added.
“It’s such a shame what happened at the end. But an Olympic silver medal isn’t bad, is it?
“I didn’t have the best prep but that’s no excuse. I felt good and I was pretty confident going into the day.
“I am gutted but on reflection this is what I have worked all my life for-it’s just the wrong colour.”
The pair met at the European Championships back in April when Jelic’s 13-10 final victory ended Williams’ bid for a third successive Euro gold.
Williams, however, suffered an injury hit build-up to the tournament and quickly turned her attentions to Tokyo.
And she was poised to avenge that defeat in Bulgaria with a flurry of points as the clock ticked down.
But Jelic refused to panic and hit back in the closing stages to prevent Williams emulating the golden achievements of 2012 and 2016 from compatriot and inspiration Jade Jones.
Williams won three fights to set-up her gold medal show down with the number one seed.
She was particularly impressive against Ruth Gbagbi of the Ivory Coast in the semi-finals, beating the 2017 world champion and Rio Olympic bronze medallist, 24-18.
Champion elect Jelic, 23, defeated American Paige McPherson 15-4 in her penultimate bout.
Heavyweights Mahama Cho (+80kg) and Bianca Walkden (+67kg) aim to add to GB’s medal tally on the final day of taekwondo competition tomorrow (Tuesday).