TEAM GB INSPIRE A NATION AS TAEKWONDO ATHLETES EXCEL AT GAMES
Sarah Stevenson reading the athletes oath at the opening ceremony, Jade Jones winning Olympic Gold, Lutalo Muhammad taking bronze and Martin Stamper putting in an impressive performance catapulted WTF Taekwondo into the limelight at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in London.
Sarah, the reigning world champion went out 5-1 in her first match against American Paige McPherson. She was tipped to win Gold but just didn’t perform to her ability on the floor. The tragic loss of her parents and possibly the lack of match fitness after coming back from a severe knee injury in February must have had some influence on this but she had every right to be there as the current world champion and I am sure that had she got through that first match and started to settle back in to a competitive environment then we might have seen her on the podium as in Beijing.
It was her 4th Olympics. A fantastic achievement as many athletes aspire to reach just one.
The Olympics had been billed as a home event that would inspire a nation. Sarah has been doing that for over a decade, just ask Martin Stamper. When interviewing him before he went back onto the floor for his bronze medal play off match, Sarah’s name was the first one he mentioned as someone who had inspired him by being at the top level for so long after 4 Olympics and two senior world championship wins, stating he only now felt that he was getting to that standard himself.
A fitting tribute to the 2011 Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year from a male player who himself won bronze at last year’s world championships.
Hopefully she will continue but let’s not forget, as well as her Beijing success and senior world championship wins she has also been senior European champion 4 times.
Jade may have won Gold here in London but still has a long way to go to emulate Sarah’s continued success in the top flight.
Lutalo Muhammad’s Olympic debut in the -80kg category was a roller coaster ride for this talented 21 year old from Hackney.
Selected ahead of World ranked number one Aaron Cook, he had been dogged by hate mail and threats on the lead up to the Games.
A relatively unknown name until he won the European Championships in the higher over 80kg category in May, he was selected for a variety of reasons which came under close scrutiny before being ratified by the BOA.
The whole situation and the media attention that came with it brought unnecessary pressure on Lutalo and many felt that he would need to perform at the highest level to justify his selection.
The pressure on any athlete at a home Olympics is incredible. Anything that adds to that is always going to cause issues that can ultimately affect an athlete’s performance so the pressure on this player as he walked on to the floor was probably more than most could handle.
However, he kept his nerve and composure to win his first match which saw him win comfortably 7-1 against Farkhod Negmatov of Tajikistan, so all looked well.
Unfortunately he then went up against Nicolas Garcia Hemme from Spain and lost 7-3. It was a disappointing match and unless his opponent made it to the final his Olympic dream was over.
A subdued Lutalo then spoke to me as he came off the floor saying, “That’s the nature of sport. It doesn’t always go your way. I had a few shots that could have scored on another occasion but there are no excuses being made. I’m very disappointed. I came here to win gold. I understand it’s an opportunity that I won’t come across again but I have to live with that and maybe refocus and gather myself for a possible repechage match.”
When asked if the problems over his selection had affected him he replied, “I wasn’t focussed on that. It was my dream to win gold. It just wasn’t meant to be today.”
GB Taekwondo’s High performance coach Joseph Salim was equally disappointed and while stating that Lutalo had been focused it was possible that the issues surrounding his selection may had distracted his performance.
He was pushed to discuss Aaron’s absence in the team and whether he would have done better but it was clear that there were no issues in relation to Aaron and discussed how close a call it had been referring to both of them as great fighters.
“To be honest it was a close call. Both Aaron and Lutalo are great fighters and it was a hard decision to make. Aaron could have been here today but I think Lutalo’s performances have just been rising, even past the Europeans actually and that’s why he was picked.
It was a difficult call. Aaron fought Garcia from Spain quite close recently and Garcia lost to Karami quite big earlier this year but today comes back and beats Karami, so it’s hard to say. The door is always open to Aaron and to anyone else who wants to make the team in the future.”
So the wait was then on to see if Garcia made it to the final although at that stage I have to admit to thinking that things were just not going to go our way. I saw it in Lutalo eyes and again when I spoke to Joseph.
After an anxious wait we watched as Garcia went through to the final giving Lutalo a chance in the repechage matches to fight for a bronze medal. Going out in his second fight though meant that he would have to win two matches for that podium place.
The big question was that after a disappointing match against Spain, just how much confidence would he have left? Was it now possible for him to raise his game under yet again more pressure?
Well the doubters were silenced. Lutalo came out onto the floor a different man and it was there for all to see that his selection was not as controversial as it had seemed.
He was up against previous World and Asian Games Champion Yousef Karami from Iran and beat him 11-7 in an amazing encounter.
Speaking to him after his match with Karami about him finding his form he stated, “Yes. I felt a lot better in that match but it’s not over yet and there is still a bronze medal match to go and I need to remain focused and hope I can deliver the goods there. Hopefully I can win a medal”
In his medal decider against Armenian Arman Yeremyan he won by an impressive 9 points to 3 securing the bronze medal, making him the first Team GB male player to win an Olympic medal.
He won both of these matches in style displaying his ability to throw head shots with speed and accuracy often doubling them up before placing his kicking leg back on the ground, much to the pleasure of an enthusiast crowd that in his own words helped him to bring out such a better performance.
After his win he stated, “We don’t normally get a second chance in regular taekwondo tournaments so once my coach had me mentally sound and ready to come back out I thought there is no way I am going to miss this opportunity, it’s a second chance and I didn’t feel like losing twice in one day.”
I asked him what his coach had said to him as he had obviously felt quite dejected initially but then was given a repechage chance.
He stated, “You know. They said look. This bronze medal is now your gold medal so you have got to treat it like a final and go for it as if you are going for the gold medal. That got me in the right state mentally and you know this bronze medal is not the colour that I wanted but it was hard earned. I fought hard for it so I am very grateful
and very happy that I’ve got this award and hopefully next time I can go two further
and get the gold medal.”
I am sure that Lutalo will now continue to improve and will be a real force in both British and World Taekwondo.
With two great fighters in that category I am sure Aaron and Lutalo will continue to fight for places on the team, a rivalry I am sure that will only make them even better.
Exciting times ahead!
Martin, in the -68kg category didn’t medal but it would be an injustice to his performances to just say that he was a bit unlucky and came close to gaining a podium place.
In my view he was one of the most impressive players on the floor and so exciting to watch. His speed, balance on the move and fabulously high kicks on the spin so nearly took him to a bronze medal in the repechage, losing out narrowly 5-3 to Afghanistan’s Rohullah Nikpah who also took Bronze in Beijing, the first Olympic medal for the country in any sport.
Speaking to Martin after that match he stated, “It was tough to take. I have worked hard, especially for the last two years when my performances have picked up.
Basically it’s been non stop training and been so hard just to get here. I was delighted to make it but I knew I was going to have to put in four good performances to achieve anything. I was so close in the semis (against Turkeys Servet Tazegul ) to pulling off a bit of a shock and then I made one mistake. I thought I was controlling the match really well. It might not have looked like it but I felt comfortable with his attacks and I was covering well and then one head shot changed the game.” He lost the match 9-6.
Speaking about head shots he went on to say, “Yes, I have worked on them a lot but still need to improve them. Head shots are the key to the game. I got caught with one in the semi final and one in the repechage. Its 3 points lost in each match so it’s one thing I still need to keep working on to get better at.
We have come here as a team better prepared than ever. The set up is amazing in Manchester, to ensure you peak at the right time. We’ve got the best support staff in my opinion. Probably the best in the world. I have been to most of the top facilities such as in Korea, Mexico and even Cuba but they don’t match ours.
I have never trained harder but cleverer than I have for this and I’m smashing it to be honest. Like you said, Jade is in the final and I’ve just unluckily been beaten in the
medal match and I’m sure we are going to pick up two more medals tomorrow which is disappointing for me missing out on a medal but for British Taekwondo it’s
going to be amazing.”
It was still a great performance though from this very likeable Liverpudlian who beat Erick Osornio Nunez from Mexico 5-2 in his opening match and Serbia’s Damir
8-3 in the quarter finals. He will now be concentrating on getting selected for next year’s world championships to hopefully go one better than he did in Korea last time around.
The event though, totally belonged to Jade Jones in the -57kg category.
She dominated every match and outclassed all of her opponents starting off with a 15-1 win against Dragana Gladovic from Serbia, a win that no doubt would have made all competitors in her category very concerned.
She then met Japan’s Mayu Hamada, beating her just as impressively by 13 points to 3.
In the semi final she was up against world number one, Li-Cheng Tseng of Chinese Taipei but came back from behind to win the match. Tseng took an early lead but Jade was having none of it. Known as “the head hunter” because she favours targeting her opponents head, it wasn’t long before she made one count to pull off a shock victory. She went on to win by 10 points to 6 securing her place in history as being the first Team GB player to make it to an Olympic final.
The crowd had been behind the 19 year old Flint fighter throughout the day but even more so as she walked out onto the floor for the final time to face China’s Yuzhuo Hou, the current world champion.
The atmosphere was intense and you could just feel the crowd urging her on. Every point scored brought with it applause and everything just seemed to go right.
This match was just too important to take chances and although head shots were thrown, Jade scored all her points by attacking her opponents body very successfully, winning the match by 6 points to 4 much to the delight of the fans.
It was Britain’s 25th gold at the Games and made her the youngest member of Team GB to do so.
After a tense last few seconds the victory was hers and she flung her protective helmet into the air before running around the arena with the Union flag in one hand and the Welsh flag in the other. The result was sweet revenge for Jones. She had lost to Hou in the final of last year’s world championships in a sudden death match.
“I always wanted to go in and win,” she said. “She took my world championship – that killed me. I wouldn’t let her beat me with a home crowd.”
She added: “It
doesn’t feel real, it feels crazy. You can’t beat it, this is
amazing. “It’s the best moment of my whole life.”
Just after her win Jade spoke of how she was inspired to compete at London by watching Sarah Stevenson win Bronze in Beijing.
She was in ITF
Taekwondo at the time so changed styles. Four years on and she was training 4 to 5 hours a day 6 days
a week at the Academy
in Manchester and was keen to praise her coach Paul Green who she often describes as being amazing and a legend.
Having started Taekwondo at the age of 8 she was also keen to point out the importance of starting at an early age. She also spoke of her concern at this event as she picked up a foot injury that required an injection, something she has not had to deal with before but had to on this occasion to continue with her dream of winning gold.
Often reduced to tears in training she also admitted to getting up as early as six in the morning to do additional training with Paul who was always pushing her to do more.
Asked if she thought the academy was one of the best in the world she was very complimentary about it stating, “Yes 100%. Our academy has just got bigger and better. The staff are amazing. We have just got absolutely everything that you need to become great really.”
Her preparations for the Games in the last few weeks included having a few top class competitors to spar with which included a Hungarian champion, several Korean players and an American competitor but made special mention of her coach again stating, “In the last couple of weeks I have been sparring with my coach Paul. I feel that if I can fight with him and score on him that I can fight any girl.”
Personally I would have to say Paul Green must be in very good shape to want to spar so regularly with an Olympic champion but it was so refreshing to hear an athlete with an Olympic gold medal in her hand be quick to praise people that have helped her to achieve that success.
earlier that she still has a long way to go to equal the long and
successful career that Sarah Stevenson enjoyed but after hearing that she
intends to only take a short break before beginning her preparations for next year’s world championships and fully intends to go for gold again in Rio, then she will no doubt also be around for a long time, doing us all proud.
She admits that she still makes mistakes on the floor and is still getting stronger because of her age so with continued work who knows just how much better she may get and the fantastic thing about it is that she is British!
British Taekwondo can be well pleased with these results.
We only had a team of four but with two medalling and another coming really close our Taekwondo athletes did us proud and really have helped to inspire a nation to take up sport.
All British Taekwondo (WTF) clubs have reported a big increase in enquiries and people wanting to join.
That can only mean good things for the nation and in particular, good things for the martial art community generally.
Speaking to GB Taekwondo’s Performance Director, Gary Hall, after the final matches he stated that once again they will be looking at repeating the fighting chance initiative where fighters from other combat disciplines will be given the opportunity to trial for a place at the Academy, an initiative from 2009 which discovered a number of potential Olympic hopefuls that are still with the Academy today.
Hall was also pleased with the performances of our athletes not just at these Games but also at the last 2 major internationals, the 2011 World championships and the 2012 European championships where Team GB secured their best ever medal hauls.
He went on to say how these results will help with their funding application to UK Sport to help with preparations for the Games in Rio.
Summoning up the performances specifically at these Olympics though he stated,” The run up to the Games was tough for certain individuals but credit to the team and those around the team, they have stayed nose to the metal, pushed on and have worked really really hard and this has been a fantastic GB Taekwondo performance.
The individuals that have been involved in that have done a great job and they have all got their own stories but it has been a great great successful Games for us. One gold, first ever female to get a gold medal, first ever gold medal for Great Britain Taekwondo and now a male medal as well. We have never done that before so it’s fantastic performance and fantastic progress.”
This was, without doubt an Olympic Games to remember.
Yes our Taekwondo team did us proud but so did all the other athletes in all 26 events here in London.
An Olympics that produced sporting superstars such as Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and of course Usain Bolt all of whom I had the pleasure of meeting and being involved with their interviews to name but a few.
What I can also say is that everyone I met, from our very own Taekwondo athletes to the medallists from most of the other sports competing for Team GB, was that they were all very likeable individuals, many of them very humble in their finest hour, maybe something that sport at its highest level brings out in individuals, probably from the years of dedicated hard work and sacrifices that have to be made.
Truly inspirational. Really. So let’s not be complacent.
Use that inspiration to either get involved in sport yourself or to encourage others such as children to take something up from an early age.
The next set of Olympic medals don’t have anyone’s names attached to them yet so being naturally bias here I would particularly encourage people to check out the British Taekwondo website (www.britishtaekwondo.org.uk) and find a club near you and get started.
Just remember though, that not everyone can become an Olympic athlete but everyone can get involved in taking up one of the 26 sports represented at what has been described as the greatest Olympics ever.
Find all the archived news both at club, national and international level within our sub pages Club news/national and international news
OLYMPIC SELECTION UPDATE
Team GB, after a month of controversy, has now been selected, with the BOA finally ratifying the four nominations put forward by GB Taekwondo, the performance arm of British Taekwondo.
Britain's Olympic squad will comprise two male players (-68kg and -80kg) and two female players (-57kg and -67kg). Four reserves have also been selected.
As expected, Jade Jones was selected in the -57kg category with current World Champion Sarah Stevenson taking the -67kg spot. Jade, who only recently moved up to senior level, has already had international success at this weight and she is the current World Silver medallist and European bronze medallist. She was committed to trying to win gold at the Europeans which says everything about her temperament and will be well up for competing for a medal here in London come August.
Sarah, as we know, lost both her parents through illness this last year and then suffered from a knee injury which severely threatened her chances of selection. It would be impossible to even try to imagine how such circumstances would make you feel and everyone that knows her are all too aware of how she feels.
However, she is the current World Champion and has competed at three previous Olympic Games, medalling in Beijing. She was determined to win Gold at the last World Championships knowing that she was already losing her parents but wanted to do it for them as much as for Herself.
Most people would struggle to come back from such tragic circumstances but she has worked tirelessly since the training camp knee injury back in February to complete her rehabilitation and will be a strong contender for a medal at the Games.
In the -68kg category a difficult decision had to be made. Michael Harvey competed in the -63kg categories at the World Championships where he took the silver medal and at the Europeans where he took gold. He also fights at the -68kg category though so was hoping that his success over the last year would put him in strong contention to challenge Martin Stamper for a place on the team.
However, Martin was The
British Taekwondo athlete of the year in 2011 after some amazing
results at a number of international competitions. He also took bronze medals at both the World and European Championships in the Olympic weight division.
Though unable to win the Europeans he was unlucky not to go through to the final so the selectors decided to go with him and like the female members of the team he is well capable of medalling in London.
I am sure Michael would have been disappointed to not get the nomination but after winning that silver medal at the worlds he informed me that should he not be selected he would concentrate of winning a gold medal at the next world championships as to date no senior male player has won a world championship!
Initially, in the -80kg category, Lutalo Muhammad was nominated by the selectors for a place on the team. This was ahead of Aaron Cook who as the world number one was strongly expected to get the nomination. After the initial selection, Aaron was given time to appeal which he did successfully, at Sport Resolutions who called for the selection panel to meet again.
At this second meeting Lutalo was again nominated although the BOA wouldn’t ratify the selection but instead called for the selection panel to be reconvened with a condition that a representative from the BOA be present.
Again, the panel picked Lutalo ahead of Aaron and it is fair to say that the issue attracted national media attention with even the WTF getting involved.
However, the BOA then ratified the selection after they were satisfied the selectors had followed due process.
The arguments over this will go on until well after the Games I am sure. Most people, like myself, wanted to see Aaron selected. He is an amazingly talented fighter and very exciting to watch. Just the sort of player that from a spectators point of view you want to see on the floor. He attacks all the time, kicks very hard and is fast.
He left the GB Taekwondo Academy a year ago after a poor performance at the World championships. I believe I wouldn’t be wrong by summoning up the reasons for leaving was because he wanted to fight more often and didn’t feel that the training he received or the way his coaches wanted him to fight more tactfully was suited to his style so he set up his own training camp, “Team Cook” as it is widely now known to be called.
Since leaving he won around 9 of the international competitions he entered which resulted in him being currently ranked world number one by the WTF. He had obviously felt that his performances since leaving the national set up were enough to secure his place at the Games as did most of the Taekwondo community and as events unfolded so did most of the national media.
This resulted in the selection panel being criticized with the emphasis being placed on his non selection being the result of him leaving the academy. It was unfortunate however that due to confidentiality clauses, GB taekwondo were not in a position to discuss their selection publicly giving the press only a one sided account to report on.
Gary Hall, the Performance director of GB Taekwondo has since however gone public about the selection procedure and has strongly defended the decision to nominate Lutalo.
In essence, it was felt that Aaron takes too many chances when he fights and even against poorer opposition he took too many of his matches to too close a decision.
It was respected that he was ranked by the WTF as the World number one but the selectors had not placed too much emphasis on this as many top fighters from countries such as Korea and Iran are poorly ranked as they often don’t attend the ranking competitions but still win medals at major tournaments.
Much had been said about Lutalo’s ranking but in fact he is ranked by the WTF at World number 7 but obviously in the higher, non Olympic weight category he won the Europeans in.
The selectors just felt that Lutalo had dramatically improved recently and with his height and flexibility coupled with the way he has performed over the last twelve months and in particularly at the Europeans that he was the right choice for London.
The new head shot rule where a player only has to make the slightest contact was also a major factor in deciding to go with Lutalo even though the BOA had stated that there should not be a disproportionate amount of weighting in the decision making process of selection in respect of this new rule.
The GB Taekwondo panel however, took note of this advice but still publically stated that it had to be a relevant issue to take into account when selecting the athlete for the -80kg category.
What I would point out is that GB Taekwondo has had tremendous success at World and European level over the last two years. This has to be down to the coaches and the support staff at the Academy where many of the British players are more than happy to be.
The selectors in previous competitions have definitely got their selections spot on. The results speak for themselves and I am sure that with so much at stake that even if there were some personal differences with Aaron, that they would still pick the best team of athletes possible to represent our interests at what is arguably going to be one of the most memorable Olympic Games in modern history.
GB Taekwondo have also stated that in response to accusations that Aaron wasn’t picked because he left the Academy that he has since been selected for GB on 2 occasions – The London Prepares (Test Event) and the European Championships, alongside other non-Academy athletes and that indeed of the 14 selected athletes for the Euros, 5 were from outside the Academy.
Aaron, I am sure, will continue to be a major force in British Taekwondo and I hope that he continues to strive for excellence and one day, again challenges for a place on an Olympic team. He is young and talented enough to still compete in Rio and beyond.
However, now that the team
has been selected and ratified I would hope that everyone gets
Our four players are all capable of winning medals at the Games but as with any sport, nothing can be guaranteed but without doubt they will all put in 100% which is all we can ask of them but I have a feeling that winning the odd medal or two is more than likely and we will see our Martial Art come Olympic Sport become even more popular as a result!
RECORD MEDAL HAUL ON HOME SOIL FOR TEAM GB AS WE HOST WTF EUROPEAN
This was the 20th staging of the Men’s and 18th staging of the Women’s Senior WTF European Taekwondo Championships and took place 3-6 May 2012 at the Regional Arena, Sportcity, Manchester.
were a total of 335 athlete entries from 39 European Nations with prominent world
champions from countries such as Spain, Turkey, Croatia and France ready to do battle to win European gold in their respective categories.
The championship was also a fabulous opportunity to promote the sport and
an opportunity for athletes and staff from across Europe to help with their preparations
for the Olympic Games in August 2012.
UK Sport supported the event through its World Class Events Programme.
Through the support of the national lottery, UK Sport have supported over 100
international events in at least 35 different towns and cities since 2007, helping the country to prepare for London 2012.
The programme distributes approximately £3.5 million of lottery funding each year to support the bidding and staging costs of major events on home soil as well as providing specialist support to organisers.
This event gave our athletes the chance to compete against the best in the world in front of a home crowd, an invaluable experience as we count down to the Games.
It has to be said that their investment is only possible thanks to people buying lottery tickets. So in reality, when you buy a lottery ticket you are directly helping with funding and ultimately supporting team GB in many of our Olympic sports!
Falling just 3 months before the Olympic Games the event was of particular relevance for our athletes as good performances here would greatly enhance their selection chances for the Games.
Having said that, The Senior European Championships is a major competition in its own right, providing all athletes with the opportunity to compete for a major championship medal, the currency by which they, and the academies they work in, are measured. GB Taekwondo and our British athletes are no different and they have been working hard to achieve as many European medals as possible.
The championships could not take place without significant financial support with GB Taekwondo Chairman, Jeremy Beard stating that once again they were indebted to their very loyal stakeholders, UK Sport, Manchester City Council, KPMG and British Taekwondo, the governing body for WTF Taekwondo in the UK.
He went on to say that their World Class Support Team are focussed on high level performances at all major championships throughout each year, while off the court, eyes are firmly focused on the future and significant work has been undertaken with regard to our UK Sport and Sport England funding applications for the four year cycle 2013 to 2017.
Like most businesses, GB taekwondo is rewarded by results and the right results can result in the type of funding that would enhance, improve and expand their athlete programme from April 2013.
That could mean an expansion of the World Class Performance Programme, funded by UK
to include more full time elite athletes for the Rio cycle.
In addition, and alongside this, GB Taekwondo hope to expand their development programme, funded by Sport England, to include a National talent Academy for junior athletes with potential to progress to the World Class Performance Programme.
With assistance and support from KPMG, GB Taekwondo are also looking at that
period to enhance their events programme to ensure our athletes can compete at the highest level on home soil and have the best possible opportunity to qualify for the major championships during that period.
with so much at stake our athletes needed to deliver some of their best performances
and they were not about to let anyone down and every Team GB member did us proud making this our best ever result at a European Championship with GB Performance Director Gary Hall being the first to salute his squad’s exceptional performance.
But GB Boss Hall
insists "there's still plenty of hard work ahead" before this summer's Olympics.
He will sit down soon with his fellow selectors to formulate his four strong team for London 2012, with an announcement to be made soon.
He will be doing this
against the backdrop of a record breaking Euros that yielded seven medals, including two in four of the Olympic weight divisions, and the overall team prize for the men's squad.
And with world champion
Sarah Stevenson making excellent progress from a training camp knee injury last February, Hall has good reason to be optimistic.
"It was a great championship for us and there were some phenomenal performances especially Lutalo (Muhammad), Aaron (Cook) and Michael (Harvey) all putting gold medals on the table," he said.
"Martin Stamper's performance was very good and Bianca Walkden was desperately unlucky not to get in to the medal zone.
"But there were exceptional performances by the team.
"The selectors have to do their jobs now but we know when we get to London we will have a strong team.
"However, we have got hard work to do before then.
"In a full contact sport, you do sometimes get injuries. And we have to make sure the number one and number two (reserve) are fit and ready to play during the Olympics."
Stevenson, out of action for exactly a year due to family issues and her injury, missed the Euros as she continues her rehabilitation.
Despite her inactivity, the Doncaster star, forced to relinquish her European crown without a kick in anger, remains in the frame for Olympic selection at -67 kg.
"Sarah has been constantly working out from 8.30 in the morning to 7.30 at night," explained Hall.
"She has done everything as we would expect from a full on professional to get ready for selection.
"In the last couple of weeks, we have watched her doing kicking sessions and she looks really good.
"There is still some combat and contact work to be done.
"But if you envisage where we thought she might be, she is well ahead of that.
"And that's testimony to all the staff as well as Sarah. We have got a world class coaching team.
"They know what this job is about and that makes a huge difference over other nations.
"But we also have a great nutritionist, psychologist, administration staff, performance analyst and strength and conditioning staff.
"They know what this is all about. They proved that at last year's historic world championships and now at this year's historic European Championships.
"Results only come through hard work and knowledge."
Off the mat, the four day
championships-the first ever held in the UK-proved a resounding success.
The final two days action attracted sell out crowds totalling 2,200. And more than a 1,000 Manchester school children sampled taekwondo for the first time thanks to GB Taekwondo's recent initiative in partnership with sponsors Laing O'Rourke.
Britain's Olympic squad will comprise two male players (-68kg and -80kg) and two female players (-57kg and -67kg). Four reserves will also be selected.
Londoner Lutalo Muhammad
captured Britain's first gold medal.
The 20-year-old marked his Euro debut with a stunning 13-4 final win over world number nine, Augustin Bata.
Muhammad broke down in tears and hugged coach Joseph Salim after an emotional roller coaster of a tournament.
He recovered and came from 10-1 down in his quarter-final against Croatian rival Nikola Bojo to win 12-11 on golden point.
Muhammad, who won a total of five fights, also belied his major championship inexperience by beating Turkey's Ali Sari 5-4 in the semi-final with the last kick of the contest.
"I went through a plan with Joseph and it worked perfectly," he grinned.
"This is a great victory and all the fans made it that much sweeter.
"It was a bit different moving up to this division because these guys are quite a lot bigger," added Muhammad who won a German Open silver earlier this year in the -80 kg category.
Of his great escape against Bojo he grinned:"Joseph told me 'no matter what is happening, don't give up.'
"I was really tired but the crowd really edged me forward.
"i can't even remember what I was thinking but I knew I wasn't going to give up."
Muhammad, who only moved to the GB Academy last year, certainly made Britain's Olympic selectors take note after his outstanding display.
Whilst he competed in this
competition in the -87kg category his normal division is the -80kg, one of our nominated Olympic weight divisions and its worth mentioning that he beat Aaron Cook in the semi final on his way to
wining that silver medal in Germany.
" I can only do my job which is performing well on the mat," he added. "I think I have done my job.
"I am not on of the selection panel, I will leave that up to them."
Muhammad's win gave Team GB its second medal of the tournament after bronze for Amin Badr.
However, day two of the championships did bring some disappointments. Chemistry
student Dominic Brookes-on his European debut-lost 1-0 to Marios Tsourdinis in
the opening round while Stephanie Allen (+73kg) lost 17-5 to Russian Olga
Ivanova, also at the first hurdle.
Jones, a favourite for Olympic selection, added to team GBs medal tally but was clearly disappointed here in Manchester.
"Maybe it's a blessing in disguise," sighed the 19-year-old Welsh teenager following her shock 16-8 semi-final defeat to Hungary's Edina Kotsis.
But certainly her second successive -57kg European bronze was of little
consolation to the Flint girl.
"I felt really good and sharp throughout the day," she said.
"I played my first two fights well but in the third I just switched off.
"I know that girl isn't better than me. She hasn't even qualified for the
"But I let her do her game and she punished me."
World Championship silver medallist Jones, who dropped only one point in her previous matches against Nikita Glasnovic (Sweden) and Deborah Louz (Holland), never recovered from conceding the first 11 points.
"The gap was too big to pull back," she agreed.
"I need to go away and make sure I am more focussed and switched on for the start.
"I know she is not better than me and if I get selected for the Olympics,
I've got to make sure it doesn't happen there.
"But I just wanted to win gold here first.
"It is a great set-up and I loved the atmosphere and I just wanted to be
in the final.
"I am so disappointed because it was my fault. But maybe it's a blessing
"It's made me realise I am not at the top yet but it's made me more hungry than ever."
Aaron Cook and Michael harvey both took part in The beijing Olympics 4 years ago and it was a pleasure to see how they have matured since then, both taking gold at this event in amazing style.
Cook defended his -80kg crown after world number one Ramin Azizov was disqualified in the last second of the final round for running off the mat.
It was ecstatic Cook's first ever victory over his Azerbaijani arch rival after
trailing throughout most of a dramatic final, including 11-9 with three seconds remaining.
But the Manchester based, Dorchester born world number three held his nerve to delight a capacity 1,100 crowd.
He sank to his knees in disbelief when the referee awarded a gam-jeom against Azizov with both players expecting golden point finale..
Mancunian Harvey claimed
his first European title with a 14-2 win over Greek Vasileios
Gaitanis; the referee stopping the contest in the final round.
Cook’s win has put him in strong contention to gain Britain's Olympic nomination at -80kg after a year of almost unbridled success.
But Harvey faces an anxious wait as his success came in a non Olympic weight class for the Brits.
However, nothing could keep the smile off his face while Cook was close to tears on top of the podium after a stunning win.
"I was so fortunate to get him out of the ring right at the end," said 21-year-old Cook.
"Some people might have said I had lost it. But I knew I won that match.
"I have had some many decisions go against me in the past and finally one has gone my way.
"I have lost three times to him so to beat him is so sweet.
"Hopefully, that can be the final at the Olympics and hopefully I can get the same result.
"The selectors have got to make a tough decision. But I feel like I have done enough and who knows what I can do in London."
Harvey added a European gold to last year's World Championship silver in South Korea.
"I just didn't want to come second again," said the 22-year-old from Droylsden.
."So, I gave everything in the final to come out with gold and it was amazing to become European Champion after such a performance and great support from the home crowd.”
"This was the last
competition before the Olympics," added Harvey, who represented Britain at the 2008 Games. "All I can do now is hope.
"I have put some pressure on Martin (Stamper)."He is a good friend and I will still be happy for him if he becomes European champion."
On the final day of the competition it was then down to Martin Stamper to show his worth and although he could not add a fourth gold for Team GB he still put on an impressive performance earning him a bronze medal in the men’s -68kg category.
Stamper remained optimistic of Olympic selection. Michael Harvey's golden success at -63kg 24 hours earlier had put extra pressure on Stamper and he eventually went out 9-6 to Croatia's Filip
"I thought it was going to be the easiest of the three fights," admitted Britain's taekwondo athlete of 2011. "But he played a good fight. He tied me up when I tried my combinations.
"I don't like making excuses but the first head shot got nowhere near me. "So from 1-1 to 4-1, I was up against it. I was a bit unlucky but the important thing was I got a medal after what Michael did.
"Last night, when Michael was fighting, I was so nervous. "I was trying to control it but it was out of my hands. "It's up to the selectors now. Hopefully, I have done enough.
"If I had got to the final I think selection would have been nailed on. But I am still confident.
"The Serbian I beat has already qualified for the Olympics and the win over the Russian (Konstantin Minin) was one of the best three of my career. "I am going to be nervous but hopefully it will be my name getting selected."
Scorpions star Caroline Fisher rounded off a great championships for the host nation with bronze at -53kg.
"I am happy to get a medal but it's disappointing not getting through to the final," said the 29-year-old Yorkshire girl.
"You want to go out there and get gold for Great Britain."
Fisher lost 18-6 at the penultimate stage to eventual silver medallist, Ana Zaninovic.
The final two members of Britain's squad finished the day empty handed. Bianca Walkden, looking to emulate boyfriend Aaron Cook after his European triumph on Saturday night, went down in the quarter-finals to Croatia's Petra Matijasevic.
Ruebyn Richards enjoyed an encouraging 8-0 first round win over Georgian Giorgi Araabuli before losing his next fight 11-10 against Ilkin Shahbazov of Azerbaijan.
Britain finished second in the overall medal table behind France but won the best male team award collected by GB Performance Director Gary Hall.
Team GB continues to
improve as performances on the floor just get better and better. Our medal
successes at last year’s World Championships coupled with our success at this competition speaks volumes for the quality of our athletes and the support and assistance they receive through the world class performance programme and I am sure that come London 2012, the funding that has been invested in our sport will surely come to fruition if these results are anything to go by.
It is also worth mentioning that to be the host nation for this event was by no means of any relevance to the fact that the Games are being staged in London this year.
Though good for our athletes to have a major competition on home soil just before that event, an Olympic Taekwondo test event had already been held in London and it was clear to see, being present there myself, that London is already prepared and waiting. Incidentally, our very own Aaron Cook took gold there too!
No, we were made the host nation for this event because of the tireless background work that many of our volunteers do to ensure that we have the capability of staging international events of this magnitude.
People such as Brian Tilley, British Taekwondo Referee Chairman, who played a massive role in coordinating everything that related to that aspect of the competition and many others from the organising committee who helped to make the event such a success.
British Taekwondo President, Adrian Tranter had the pleasure of welcoming the ETU Presidents and their Teams to this competition and made the following statement.
“Firstly, I must say a few “thank you’s”
Of course, to WTF President Dr Choue for finding the time in his hectic schedule to be with us at the event, we were honoured to have him in Manchester. His leadership and vision for our sport, as well as his trust he has shown to British Taekwondo are so important, especially at this time.
Also ETU President Mr Pragalos for his leadership in Europe and his trust he has shown in British Taekwondo also.
To the ETU Executive Committee for their trust in granting us the opportunity to host the event.
To UK Sport and Manchester City Council for their wonderful support of this event.
I must also thank the
Lord Mayor of Manchester for his gracious hospitality in hosting a Welcome Dinner in the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City Football Club. It was a fitting setting for our sport, as we share
many similar emotions and examples with football, such as passion, desire, speed, agility, thrills and drama. The beautiful game of taekwondo will set the world on fire this year
when we meet again in London during August. Our GB Team were in excellent form, just at the right time. The results speak for themselves. Hopefully they will be able to continue on that path during the Olympic Games.
Of course, the event was a huge success due to Ian Leafe having a great team behind him, so special mention to Brian Tilley, Tom and Trudy Stammer, Steve Gane, Angie Davison and all the other heroes behind the scenes.
What was really pleasing
was to see so many of our club members and instructors at the event, all enjoying themselves and making the event the best there has ever been, so a massive “well done” to all of them, you made it
My fellow Presidents were amazed at the level of support given to our athletes, making the atmosphere truly special. Our stakeholders, UK Sport, Manchester City Council were also delighted with the event, a resounding success from their perspective.
I reflect on how far British Taekwondo has come over recent years. It was always a dream of mine to think that one day we could have a competition in Great Britain like the Dutch Open, the German Open and the Belgium Open. This we have done with the British International. But to think we could bring the European Championships to Great Britain, well it was just a dream, for many years.
But we did it, here, in Manchester. So I would like to say a personal heartfelt thank you to the ETU Executive Committee for making my dream come true. It is clear that we can host world class events and we hope that this will not be the last.
The timing of our hosting the event was perfect for us. British Taekwondo is on the crest of a wave, that’s for sure. Our membership and clubs are growing yet again and interest in our sport is rising due to the Olympic Games. With so much publicity focusing on WTF Taekwondo, we must make sure that our message clearly shows that the only place to be is British Taekwondo, for all the right reasons. To be the best, you have to be a part of the best.”
OLYMPIC SELECTION LATEST
THE FOLLOWING ATHLETES HAVE BEEN SELECTED TO REPRESENT TEAM GB
AT PRESENT THE BRITISH OLYMPIC ASSOCIATION HAVE NOT RATIFIED THE -80KG NOMINATION OF LUTALO MUHAMMAD AND ARE SEEKING CLARIFICATION FROM BRITISH TAEKWONDO AS TO WHY AARON COOK WAS NOT PUT FORWARD. A DECISION IS LIKELY BY THE END OF THE WEEK
Open 2011 and Olympic Update
A glittering array of world title holders and world medallists were among the 450 plus entrants to Britain’s 4th International Open held at Manchester’s Regional Area over 2 days in October 2011.
With WTF G2 status it
was the must do event of 2011.
Supported by UK Sport through the National Lottery funded World Class Events Programme it gave British athletes the chance to compete against the best in the world in front of a home crowd, a valuable experience not only for the athletes but also for the dedicated team of officials and volunteers as we countdown to London 2012.
The event was also supported by Manchester City Council who recognise the profile and economic benefits that such events bring to the city and local communities.
As a G2 event, valuable ranking points were up for grabs as athletes from home and abroad targeted selection both for the Games and ahead of that in May, the European Championships, also due to be held on home soil for the first time, again in Manchester.
2011 saw our most successful year since establishing the performance programme in 2005. Medals at the French, German and US Opens were followed by our greatest ever medal tally at the World Championships in May so Team GB was full of optimism and keen to secure more podium places as they continue to make their mark on the world.
GB Taekwondo Performance Director Gary Hall described the entry list as “an absolute world class field” and went on to say that, “Outside the World Championship, it is probably the best quality line up assembled for an open of this kind”.
It also gave him a good insight into which four athletes he will select to compete at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Four gold medals were taken by British players plus two other podium places, again illustrating the ability of home players to compete and beat the world's best.
And there's genuine optimism that success achieved in the past 12 months, including a record world championship medal haul, can be replicated in London next summer.
Hall will name the players to fill the chosen Olympic weight divisions at -68kg and -80kg (men) and -57kg and -67kg (women) next May.
Three of the classes produced gold medals in Manchester: Jade Jones (-57kg), Martin Stamper (-68kg) and Aaron Cook (-80kg).
Sarah Stevenson, Britain's -67kg world champion, didn't compete at the event after an emotional six months, in which she had to deal with the loss of her father Roy and more recently, her mother Diane, both of whom succumbed to cancer.
There are a number of other key events, including the French Open in Paris in December, events in Holland and Germany next March and the 2012 European Championships in Manchester, before its decision time for Hall.
Unsurprisingly though he is encouraged by the performances as he considers the permutations available to him before picking his Olympic quartet.
"The British Open was a tremendous success with great performances from British players," said Hall.
Bianca Walkden, a double gold medallist at the recent Polish Open, and Academy newcomer Stephanie Allen aimed to impress in the +73 kg division.
Walkden took gold, a fantastic achievement after coming back from a major injury. Unfortunately the weight selection for London wasn't in her favour, although many are convinced that she will win European, World and Olympic medals in the future.
The popular Liverpudlian has now won
four British titles but needed a
golden point to edge out German rival, Katharina Weiss.
Former world number two Walkden is now
back to her best after a serious
knee injury wrecked her chances at the World Championships last May.
She is still coming to terms with the
knowledge that her weight isn't
one of four selected for next year's Olympics.
"The injury was a nightmare-the worst
thing that could possibly
happen," said the recent double Polish Open champion.
"But I'm not going to give up, even if
there is one percent chance
of making the Olympics."
Bianca, when in form, makes winning look
effortless but it’s train hard
and win easy as far as she is concerned and was just so pleased to have won the event 4 times in a row and happy to be back from injury and winning again, also mentioning she was pleased for the other British players that took medals home.
For now though she is looking forward to
the next event, the French open
where again she will have her sights on taking yet another gold medal.
In the absence of world gold medallist Sarah Stevenson, all eyes were on the remaining 3 of Britain’s nominated Olympic weights.
That was certainly the case for 4 of our Olympic hopefuls in the men’s -68kg division, Michael Harvey, Martin Stamper, defending champion Tony Grisman and National champion Jordan Gayle.
Harvey took the silver medal at the world championships in Gyeongju, South Korea in the - 63kg division, a performance which he felt he was always capable of and which has given him a new found confidence for other events but he moved up to the higher weight division for this competition in an effort to qualify for the Games.
If he doesn’t make it he intends to move back down to the lighter weight again in an attempt to better his world silver medal and be the first senior male competitor to win a world championship.
Only two others have taken silver at such an event before, Paul Green (now a GB Taekwondo Academy coach) and Lindsey Lawrence.
Michael broke a bone in his wrist leading up to
the worlds and was suffering from a stress fracture in his foot before this event but managed both injuries well enough for them not to be an issue for either
Grisman took gold at this event in style last year beating a world champion in the process while Stamper has just had an exceptional year which culminated in a bronze medal at the worlds in this division.
Gayle, a previous youth Olympic silver medallist
had to miss the world championships through injury which seriously interrupted a promising career but he is now coming back to form and fitness and makes up
this quartet of players all chasing that Olympic place.
Interestingly Harvey, Grisman and Gayle all share the same accommodation and all 4 train together at the academy in Manchester.
Harvey, who was just 18 when he took part in the Beijing Olympics is well aware of the importance of selection for the Games to any player in this division but stated that although individually anyone not making it would be gutted they are such good friends that whoever gets the spot will get all the support and help from the others needed in their preparations for the big one. “We will all want to support Team GB” he stated.
“That said, friends or not off the floor, when
it comes to training and competing it’s each individual for himself and there will be no compromises on the mat,” added Harvey.
“Yes. I would be totally gutted not to make my second Games,” he stated. “The British set up was good for Beijing but each year since then my training and coaching keeps going to another level. We all get world class support in the programme at Manchester and for me I couldn’t do better by going it on my own, especially as all the potential contenders for the Games in my division all train together on a daily basis giving us all quality training and sparring. For me I am really happy being part of this set up, something that I feel I really need to be involved in to continue to receive all the benefits the Academy has to offer.
We also have a full time sports psychologist at
the Academy, Sarah Brodhead and having access to her every week really helped me in my
success at the worlds. She is an invaluable asset for Team GB, especially when players have to compete under such enormous pressures now due to the expectations we find ourselves in.”
It was unfortunate that Turkey's world champion, Servet Tazegul, who beat Liverpool's Stamper on his way to gold in Gyeongju, had to pull out of this open through injury and there was more disappointment for organisers when 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, Rohullah Nikpaa, was among a group of Afghani players unable to obtain visas to visit Britain.
Nevertheless, it was still one of the strongest categories of the event with Stamper coming through strong securing the gold medal.
The Liverpudlian dad of one came through
tough quarter and semi-finals
to face Mohammad Abulibdeh in the final.
However, his Jordanian opponent,
conqueror of unfortunate British team
mate Michael Harvey in a sudden death round in a quarter final, after the
scores levelled at an amazingly close 16/16 final round score, withdrew before the final with a knee injury.
"I came out expecting to fight and was as surprised as anyone when I didn't have to compete.
"But he told me he has the Asian Olympic qualifiers in a few weeks and was looking after himself.
Obviously, I'd liked to have won it in the ring but I'll take gold," added Stamper.
He succeeds team mate Tony Grisman as
champion who bowed out in
The Mansfield star was the victim of early technical glitches and lost 5-4 to Russian Vasilii Nikitin.
With Nikitin leading 3-0 in the third and final round, the match was held up for nearly 15 minutes to resolve electronic scoring issues.
Grisman made a valiant effort to keep his crown, levelling at 3-all and 4-all in a frantic finish before Nikitin grabbed the all important winning point.
"The sensor on my left leg didn't appear to be scoring," explained dejected Grisman.
"We asked that the contest be re-started
at 2-0 because that's when we noticed problems. But there was nothing I could do. That's taekwondo but it
wasn't a good way to go out."
National champion Jordan Gayle wanted some good performances in front of his home fans. However, after an encouraging opening win, he lost 6-0 against Israeli Yuval Buhbut.
Stamper was in jubilant mood though
after his win in Manchester and
commented, “"The British open was a great success for me, I was injured after the world championships in May so I didn't have a perfect preparation or time to adjust to the change to the Daedo scoring equipment which didn’t help, so to come out with the gold medal after four tough fights was a great result.
It was a shame I didn't get to fight the final
but things like that happen. The support of the crowd was great though, especially in the quarters and semis were I had two close fights against French players."
"I have been preparing for London 2012 since the end of 2009 when I
switched weights from -63kg to -68kg which is the Olympic weight. In taekwondo the weights cut down from 8 weight groups to 4 for the Olympic Games and obviously with it being the most prestige's event and the medal that everyone would love to have most athletes either lose or gain weight to try and qualify for the Olympics. So the Olympic categories are usually stronger with a lot more fighters in."
2011 was a great year for Martin. In total he had 23 fights with only 1 defeat. They included gold medals at the US, German and British Opens and a bronze medal atthe World Championships and he is currently looking for sponsorship for the final push in his preparation towards his goal of reaching London 2012, and stated, “Any help would be greatly appreciated"
In the female -57kg category, Team GB was represented at this event by Jade Jones.
She won medals at the US, German and Chuncheon Opens but her undoubted highlight was a World Championship silver medal in South Korea last May.
That performance convinced GB Taekwondo Performance Director Gary Hall to nominate Jones's -57kg weight as one of the four to be contested by British players at next year's Olympic Games.
That has made Jones determined to seal her own nomination and a strong performance at this Manchester event was certainly going to count in her favour.
However, the girl form Flint, described by world champion Sarah Stevenson as “ a bit of an animal” was in no mood to disappoint.
She capped a memorable night for home stars by joining Bianca Walkden and Martin Stamper as British Open gold medallists.
The 18-year-old World Championship silver medallist came from 4-0 down in the opening round to beat French rival Marlene Harnois 10-8 in the final.
“I expected a tough fight because I beat her at the Worlds in the semi finals and I knew she wanted to beat me so bad," said Jones.
"I don't know what happened at the start; maybe I wasn't switched on. But it all came right and it's amazing to win my first British Open title."
Jones knew before the event that there would be pressure on her because her -57kg weight category had been picked for the Games, “But it also meant I could use the competitions leading up to the Olympics to try out and practice new things, “she stated going on to say, “So, hopefully my performance will be 100 percent if picked for London."
If selected for the Games, Jones’s main threat will be from the east in the shape of Tseng Li-cheng.
Chinese Taipei's Tseng Li-cheng is one of the favourites and has already qualified for London. The duos have never met.
Li-cheng gained Olympic qualification in style, winning five successive bouts including a 3-0 final success over China's Hou Yuzhuo.
And it was Yuzhuo who claimed a golden point victory over Jones in the world final.
Jones has already had a taste of what it would be like to win an Olympic event. She has already won the Youth Olympics before moving up into the seniors, an experience she will never forget. “It’s the best feeling ever” she stated. The whole experience of it all was a highlight for her career as was winning her senior world silver medal but she won’t be satisfied until she is selected for and then goes on to win the ultimate prize.
She is well aware of the ability of her 2 main rivals from the east but feels they should be more concerned about her and the way she is fighting at the moment I don’t think anyone would disagree.
It is very unlikely that anyone else will get selected for that Olympic spot. Only Caroline Fisher (a -53kg player) has the potential to do well at that level but she may have to if Jones is unavailable for any reason. Generally speaking Jones doesn’t get injured too often so let’s just hope she remains relatively injury free and on form leading up to the Games.
Jones originally started off in ITF Taekwondo when she was 8 years old after being taken to a class by her granddad but took to competing straight away.
She switched to WTF at the age of 15 with her first win at the French open in 2009 as a junior, joining the Academy in 2010.
Whilst her granddad may now miss taking her to training, Jones, just like Harvey, really likes life at the Academy and feels that the training and support she receives there just keeps getting better and better.
She describes Academy coach Paul Green as a legend and obviously has a lot of respect for this former world silver medallist.
Interestingly Jade, Michael Harvey and Jordon Gayle all originate from the Manchester Aces taekwondo club run by Brian Green, Paul’s father.
Jade has obviously moved on somewhat since her days as a junior at that club and has adapted really quickly from the junior fight scene up into the seniors.
She describes competing in the juniors as lots of kicking and being able to have a scrap where as in the seniors she had to adjust to it being more technical and specifically having to quickly sus out opponents’ strengths and weaknesses and to adapt tactics accordingly. She also said something about not giving seniors too much respect!
In the -80kg division, world champion Farzad Abdollahi from Iran was competing and ready to test the best of British including former GB Academy member, Aaron Cook.
Fellow Olympic contenders: Andrew Deer, Damon Sansum, Ruebyn Richards and Lutalo Muhammad and another former Academy member, Craig Brown all ensured a highly competitive field.
However, it was Aaron Cook who won his 'Battle of Britain' against Londoner Craig Brown in the final to boost his qualification chances for next year's Olympic Games.
The 20-year-old from Dorchester defeated Athens Olympian Brown 23-11 in the final of the -80kg weight division.
Brown does a lot of work with young people at his club Positive Impact Taekwondo School which makes it possible for him to attend competitions in an effort to qualify for London 2012.
He is following his own training programme and is quick to mention the excellent help he is getting from his coaches Master Chris Sawyer (1988 Olympics), Richard Allen and Michael Geourgiou as well as the assistance from his physio Greg Ryan at HFS-Clinics who all help him at no cost out of the goodness of their heart.
Speaking to him after the event he stated, “I am a Christian and my faith is my strength. Everything I do in my sport and work with kids is aimed at being a positive role model.
Although I got to the final of this world class event my preparation can still be better and so can my performance. And it will need to be if I'm going to make it to the Games”.
As with some of the other players, that is why he is currently seeking sponsorship to help him go that extra step higher, so he can continue clawing his way back up the ladder and push his Olympic qualification to the max.
However, there was no denying Cook’s supremacy in that weight class though and it will take a serious step up for all GB contenders in this category to match Aaron when he is on form. His gold was the fourth of the weekend for home stars.
Brown's silver, a -53kg bronze medal for 2011 world championship competitor, Caroline Fisher, and a number of junior wins at the two day meeting confirmed taekwondo's reputation as one of Britain's most successful sports.
Reigning European champion Cook appears favourite to win Britain's nomination for 2012 though it's not a formality.
The world number three certainly enjoyed his victory over Londoner Brown, letting out a delighted roar and pumping his fists in front of a packed crowd at Manchester's Regional Arena.
"I am a lot happier now and am on a roll," acknowledged Cook.
"I want to keep going and step it up for hopefully a gold in London.
"Since the disappointment of the World Championships (where he lost his first match), I have had massive motivation.
"It might have been good for me to learn that before London. "It has made me push so much harder, train sometimes three times a day, six days a week to try to get back to where I was.
"Now it is about stepping on and hopefully we can do that. "But there is still a long way to go; it is just about good preparations and staying positive."
Brown also quit the GB Academy in 2009 but has only recently started to show the form that took him to Athens seven years ago.
"My results have been building up, I've been hitting finals and there is still more to come from me," said the Peckham fighter. "Olympic qualification is still open; I am working with a new coach now and am really positive."
Brown, runner-up to injured Academy player Andrew Deer at this year's Nationals, began his run to the final with a 14-7 win over another Olympic GB Academy hopeful, Ruebyn Richards.
There were first round defeats also for Lutalo Muhammad (12-11) against European silver medallist, Nikolaos Tzellos and Damon Sansum (8-5) against Rasmus Antonsen).
In the -80kg division, Aaron Cook failed to medal at the World Championships but took gold here in style although it is healthy to see fierce competition from GB players in that category.
Cook's final win over Londoner Craig Brown was a fight between two former GB Academy members.
Hall happily acknowledged their achievement saying:"We respect the fact they do their own programme.
"But let's not forget Craig was with us seven years, Aaron was with us for five and we invested a significant amount of cash in both.
"Remember also that Andrew Deer beat Craig at the National Championships only a few months ago. Unfortunately Andrew was injured for the British Open but that's how close it is”.
As Britain’s former world number one, Cook was competing for the first time in the UK since leaving the GB World Class Performance Programme last June , although this was his 5th competition since then.
He became European champion in St. Petersburg last year (2010) beating Greek player, Nikolaos Tzellos but whilst he didn’t want to go into any detail about his current training set up outside of his own team he did state that that he just wants to get his head down and do the best job he can.
What we do know is that he has increased the amount of time he now spends in the gym which will hopefully
produce the performance we all want come next year and he has certainly seen great success in his last
He took gold in Austria in a division that contained the World Bronze medallist 2011, European Gold and Silver Medallists 2010 and winners of US, Holland, Belgium and Spanish opens. An impressive field!
He also won Bronze in Korea at the Chuncheon Open and Gold in Costa Rica after beating the Commonwealth Games winner. Luke Ford from the USA, who he lost to at the Worlds, also competed at that event but didn't progress into the second round.
He took another Gold in Israel
beating 3 Russians who between them had
won 3 European Golds at Junior/U21 level. One of them had also won the Russian Open beating the World No1 from Azerbaijan on the way as well as finalists at the German and French opens and the bronze medallist from the World University Games.
Finally, Gold at this British
Open, with a field that contained 2
Olympians (Brits), a current and previous World Champion, the 2009 World Silver medallist, the 2010 European gold and silver medallists, an Asian Games Champion, and Gold medallists from most of this year’s major opens as well as the World University Games Champion 2011 and Sport Accord Games winner 2010!!
Aaron, like Jade, is quickly
becoming a star in world taekwondo and when
these two take to the floor everyone sits up and takes notice. They are both so amazing and talented that it would be unreal not to have them in the team for the Games.
When on form they are both unstoppable and a pleasure to watch.
Hall, along with his coaching staff, will make his final team selection after the European championships in May 2012.
For many of us, tickets to the
Games have been near on impossible to get
hold of but we are fortunate to be holding the Europeans on home soil in May, an ideal opportunity to see our best players in action in person before the real test when the selected athletes go head to head with the rest of the world in London 2012.
For Team GB though they will not
be taking things easy after such a
A new coach has been brought in, Hungarian Joseph Salim.
This event was his first major competition since joining the GB coaching set up and with his addition Hall believes we have got one of the strongest if not the strongest, coaching team in the world.
Joeseph has previously coached world gold medallists as well as winning European and World medals as a competitor. He joins Paul Green and Steve Jennings who both have proven credentials.
So now it is countdown time and our players need all the support they can get.
All British martial artists were given the chance to be selected for the Academy as a result of the fighting chance initiative a couple years ago, an initiative that attracted 1000 applicants from several disciplines. The ones that made it through are still with the Academy so final selection will truly be completly representative of the talent within our shores and if 2011 is anything to go by we could see our athletes doing us proud in London.
Major Forthcoming GB Taekwondo Events:
May, 2012 European Taekwondo
further information on the Euros and the
GB Team, visit www.gbtaekwondo.co.uk and follow the team on Twitter:
10th May 2011
SUCCESS AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS 2011
Thursday 28th April
Friday 29th April
Saturday 30th April
Sunday 1st May
Monday 2nd May
Tuesday evening 3rd May
Thursday 5th May
6th May 2011
SILVER FOR HARVEY AFTER "EXCEPTIONAL" WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR BRITAIN
Tickets for the Taekwondo event at London 2012 will be on sale from 15th March 2011.
Full details can be obtained from visiting london2012.com
1st place success for Norwich WTF student
Norwich WTF club member, Tom Read took to the floor on 27th February 2011 in his third attempt to win an open WTF style Taekwondo competition and this time managed to take first place.
The event, hosted by Nottingham Taekwondo Club took place at the Nottingham Wildcats Arena and attracted literally hundreds of players from all over the country.
Tom, who has previously medaled in many mixed martial arts championships has turned to WTF Taekwondo after attempting to gain entry into the national squad through the 2012 Fighting Chance initiative.
After initially believing WTF style fighting wasn't as tough as fighting in a mixed martial arts match he changed his mind after mixing it with other Fighting Chance initiative applicants and now has his sights firmly fixed on winning more titles.
Club Master Guest's at LTA Grading
On Sunday 13th February 2011 Norwich WTF Chief Instructor, attended a London Taekwondo Academy Grading in Acton, West London at the invitation of LTA Chairman Master Usman Dildar 6th Dan.
Master Dildar is also Vice Chairman of The WTF PR Committee, Director of WTF Media, a WTF International Referee and an International Advisor to Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters). He is also Chairman of West Acton Youth Community Association.
He was introduced to everyone present at the beginning of the grading before he gave a short speech showing his gratitude to be invited as a guest of Master Dildar's. He went on to talk about the special bond that all LTA members have with each other and the impressive way that their number of associate clubs are run within the London area.
Following the grading He was taken out to dinner with all senior members of the LTA group.
British Silver Medal Success for Norwich WTF Student
Norwich WTF student, Tessa Beecroft took second place at the BTCB National Poomsae championships on the 6th February 2011. The WTF event took place at Sheffields Institute of Sport. It was Tessa's first WTF Poomsae competition as she competed against 4 other competitors in the final of the 1st Senior Female category. It was an outstanding achievement for the Norwich based competitor and impressed the BTCB national coach to the extent that it was mentioned that she was extremely close to winning gold.
Black Belt Grading Success
Norwich WTF club member Chris Dida successfully tested for his Black Belt 1st dan In December 2010 at a BTCB Dan promotion grading. Chris has only been training with the club for just over two years but took to the training straight away and has progressed through the ranks very quickly. His main interests are within the sporting aspects of the art and he has his sights now firmly fixed on several BTCB events throughout 2011.
Norwich WTF December 2010 Grading
Norwich WTF members enjoy 100% pass rate at December 2010 Grading
Full Grading Results
Graded to 8th Kup Yellow Belt:
Graded to 6th Kup Green Tab
Graded to 5th Kup Green Belt Blue Tab
Graded to 4th Kup Blue Belt
Graded to 3rd Kup Blue Belt Red Tab
Graded to 2nd Kup Red Belt
Graded to 1st Kup Red Belt Black Tab