We visited the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester this October 2018 and caught up with a few people.
Bianca Walkden and Aaron Cook talked about the competition and their hopes for results this year and for the 2020 Olympics.
also chatted to Shirley Stapleton, the CEO of GB Taekwondo, for an
insight into her role and how her and the team are helping create a
platform for Team GB success.
Hey ho silverlining as Walkden narrowly misses Grand Prix crown
BiancaWalkden collected GB Taekwondo’s third medal of the World Grand Prix but gold just eluded the Liverpool heavyweight in Manchester tonight. (Saturday)
Theworld number one and double world champion, bidding for her first Grand Prixtitle of the year. breezed into the final of the +67kg weight division final.
Butroared on by a partisan crowd at the Regional Arena in her adopted city,Walkden suffered a 6-4 defeat to China’s Shuyin Zheng.
Itwas a case of deja-vu for the 27-year-old Brit beaten by her Asian rival in the2016 Olympic semi-finals in Rio.
“AllI want to do is try and win gold and I was a little bit off that,” said Walkden.
“Itried a few moves that didn’t come off but hopefully I can go to the nextcompetition and beat her there.
“IfI want to be the best of the best I have got to fight the best of the best sobring it on.
“Hopefullynext year I can turn this silver into gold at the World Championships inManchester.
“That’smy ultimate goal is to retain my world title and go on to Tokyo in 2020 andbecome Olympic champion.”
Walkden reached her third Grand Prix final of2018 with a 22-5 semi-final win over evergreen Maria Espinoza of Mexico
Espinozawon the Olympic title in Beijing 10 years ago but the 31-year-old also wonbronze at the 2017 World Championships.
Walkden,whose journey to gold began with a first round bye, dominated from the startleading 10-0 and then 18-2 going into the last two minutes.
Fellow heavyweight Rebecca McGowan produced astunning first round upset before exiting the tournament in the last 16.
The Dumbarton athlete shocked London 2012champion and 2017 world gold medallist, Milica Mandic of Serbia 9-4 to recordthe best win of her career.
McGowan, still only 18, also foughtstrongly against Asian Championship goldmedallist Pan Gao before losing 19-8.
“Beating Mandic gave me a confidence boost,”said the Scottish teenager. “But I try to treat every opponent differently,forget the previous match and focus on the next one.
“On her next outing against Chinese rival Gaoshe added: “I could have started it a lot stronger than I did. I took a bit toomuch pressure at the beginning and I was chasing the whole match.”
World Junior champion, Jordyn Smith andMaddison Moore, were the first two GB athletes in action on day two competingin the -49kg division.
“If I had stuck to my game plan and attacked, I think it would have gone a different way,” said former European karatechampion, Moore, 23, after losing 17-14 against China’s Xueqin Tan.
Scottish teenager Smith from Carronshore lost9-3 against South Korea’s Jae-young Sim .
“There was only a point or two in it but I lost it chasing the game,” said the youngster.
“I felt my game plan went well. I executed itquite well but there is still stuff I need to work on to get to the top.”
Falkirk’s Hassan Haider was the only Britishmale in action during day two. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old was overtaken inthe closing stages of his opening -58kg contest against Ukraine’s TarasMalchenko losing 18-17.
“A few decisions didn’t go my way but that’s taekwondo and you have to adapt,” he said. “I was up by one point with one second to gobut just got caught by one shot.”
Double Olympic champion Jade Jones is the star attraction on the final day of competition looking to add to Walkden’ssilver, gold for Lauren Williams (-67kg) and bronze for Bradly Sinden (-68kg).
Aaron Cook throws down the gauntlet for himself and his girlfriend,
Bianca Walkden, to win big in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It might be 2
years away but their sights are very firmly set on the winners podium
Aside from that he reveals his pre match diet… Is there a secret or is it just good home cooking?
Aaron Cook is UK born but represents Moldova (politics and so on, enough said) not GB.
three-time European gold medallist Aaron Cook scored a knockout victory
over current world champion Tahir Guelec in the -80kg semi-finals at
the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester.
Behind by 4-0 in the opening exchanges to the German, Cook pulled everything back with a ferocious reverse kick that dumped Guelec on the mat.
Unfortunately Cook subsequently lost a tight final to the Iranian Mahdi Khodabakhshi to take silver.
Golden girl Jade wraps up record equalling World GrandPrix haul for GB Taekwondo
Jade Jones and Damon Sansum ensured GBTaekwondo stars achieved a record equalling tally of World Grand Prix medals onthe final day of action in Manchester tonight (Sunday).
Double Olympic champion Jones lived up to her tag as pre-event favourite with gold in the -57kg final against Chinese teenager, Lijun Zhou.
Sansum achieved a best ever Grand Prix result in the -80kg weight division but Raul Martinez Garcia claimed his first GPcrown with a 22-7 victory.
However, the two podium places boosted GB’sfinal medal tally to five, matching their 2017 haul at the London Grand Prix 12months ago.
“What a lot of people don’t know is I was in tears at the start of the day because I was so nervous,” said the Flint fighter after her impressive 11-4 final success.
“It is hard because everyone expects you to win all the time. But when I come out and everyone is screaming for me, it’s impossible not to go for it. Now, I am full of smiles.
“This event one is always special to me because it’s in the city where I train and all my family friends get to see me. It is an amazing feeling.
“It is a long journey to Tokyo 2020 and thisis the start for me. I am aiming to be the very best me in Tokyo so there willbe a few bumps on the way.
“However, I feel in good shape and I amconstantly improving.”
Jones proved far too strong for another of her up and coming challengers, Skylar Park, in the penultimate round.
Canada’s 2016 junior world champion wasbrushed aside 17-4 as the world number one moved closer to a seventh Grand Prixgold medal.
Jones, who received a first round bye, opened her campaign with a 10-5 win over Chinese Taipei’s Chia-ling Lo.
Next up was a re-match of last month’sChinese Taipei Grand Prix clash against Inese Tarvida but the ‘Headhunter’ dulyavenged her 5-3 defeat against her Latvian opponent.
Champion Garcia also knocked out RussianMaksim Khramtsov, a winner of this year’s three previous Grand Prix titles.
So, despite missing out on gold Sansum remained upbeat. “I didn’t get a Grand Prix medal for four years,” he said after improving on last month’s bronze in Chinese Taipei
“I was out for a while with injury and when Icame back the style had moved on so I had a bit of catch-up.
“But now my game plan is coming together when I need it. I have a silver and bronze now and with the World Championships in Manchester next year, the gold is coming.”
Sansum reached the final after Egyptian Seif Eissa withdrew at the end of round two. The home favourite trailed 9-1, fought backto 9-all before Eissa decided he couldn’t continue with what appeared to be aknee problem.
He reached the last four after a series of impressive wins. He started by defeating Brazil’s Joao PedroChaves (16-7), followed up against Julio Ferreira of Portugal (13-11) and then coming from behind in the closing stages to knockout Spaniard Daniel QuesadaBarrera 11-10.
Semi-final rival Eissa knocked out Moldova’sAaron Cook in the last eight, winning on golden point.
Making her Grand Prix debut and first seniorappearance for GBT was Yorkshire teenager Kyla Julien at -57kg.
And the Huddersfield youngster impressed onlookers with her all-action style before bowing out 13-11 to Croatia’s 2017World Championship bronze medallist, Nikita Glasnovic.
“I tried with everything I had,” said Julien.“I was trying to land shots but she was covering them all.
“I threw a kick and looked at the score board hoping it had hit. I should have carried on kicking instead so perhaps a little bit of inexperience.
“Even though I have lost here I know I have come a very long way since last year.”
Hall happiness at GB Taekwondo’s World Grand Prix showing
Performance Director Gary Hall declared himself “extremely pleased” as GB Taekwondo fighters secured a record equalling medal haul from the World Taekwondo Grand Prix that finished in Manchester on Sunday.
Double Olympic champion Jade Jones and twiceEuropean title holder, Lauren Williams won gold during the three-day tournament.
There were silver medals for double worldchampion Bianca Walkden and double world championship medallist, Damon Sansum,while Bradly Sinden, also a world medallist last year, finished with bronze.
In addition, teenager Rebecca McGowan knockedout former Olympic title winner and world champion, Milica Mandic in her firstbout while Liverpool’s Josh Calland claimed the scalp of Belgium’s 2015 worldchampion, Jaouad Achab.
There were also Grand Prix debuts for up andcoming prospects, Molly Dunbavin and Kyla Julien.
“I am extremely pleased for a couple of reasons,” said Hall. “We bid for Grand Prix events for exactly what was created over the weekend.
“That was home advantage and an ability toraise the profile of the sport plus an opportunity for the best taekwondoathletes on the planet to come to Manchester and for our fighters to compete against them to see what level they are at.
“Considering there were only eight weight groups contended, we got five medals in eight of those groups. So, I am extremely pleased with the number of ranking points we pulled off on the journey toTokyo.”
The final medal tally equalled last year’s totalfrom the London Grand Prix. In contrast, last month ‘only’ three medals weretaken at the Taoyuan Grand Prix in Chinese Taipei, none of them gold.
“We can’t be at our very best for everysingle event,” admitted Hall. “But this was one we had on the calendar wewanted to hit. And the athletes did just that.
“You are a fool in sport if you think it isalways going to meet your expectation but, on this occasion, it came right.
“This is testament to our world classperformance programme in Manchester.
“It provides the best athletes with the bestservice they need to continue to win at the very highest level.
“We also have a sustained track record ofdeveloping athletes in the proper way. Part of that is blooding them in fieldslike we had at the Grand Prix.
“It’s another one of the advantages of havinga home event game. It is an invaluable experience for athletes like that.”
Next May, Manchester will host the first taekwondo World Championship staged in the United Kingdom.
“Manchester is the home of GB taekwondo and crowds are getting larger,” added Hall. “They are also getting more informed.
“There is an appetite to watch and supportthe team at big events.
“So, it will be brilliant to have the WorldChampionships at the Manchester Arena.
“I think there will be an incredibleatmosphere and I am sure there will be some memorable golden moments.”
World Grand Prix medallists:
- 68kg: Bradly Sinden (bronze)
- 80kg: Damon Sansum (silver)
- 57kg: Jade Jones (gold)
- 67kg: Lauren Williams (gold)
- 67kg: Bianca Walkden (silver)
GB Taekwondo CEO Shirley Stapleton gives her insight into the team and the process behind the success of Team GB and the organising of the World Taekwondo Grad Prix Manchester.
Main writer; Trevor Baxter Red & White Media, Stills courtesy GB Taekwondo