GB Taekwondo stars visit Old Trafford ahead of Grand Prix
Members of the British team, including London 2012 gold medallist Jade Jones, took to the pitch last Saturday during a Manchester United match to draw local publicity ahead of next weekend’s inaugural World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) Grand Prix.
Jones was joined by Lutalo Muhammad, Michael Harvey and Jordan Gayle on the pitch as they paraded ahead of the kick-off before watching the home team’s 1-0 defeat to Newcastle United.
Their presence may not have been enough to kick start Manchester United’s flagging season but it is likely to provide more support among local people ahead of next week’s event – the final in a series of showpiece sporting events held in the city in recent months.
Since winning her Olympic Gold in London, 57 kilogram fighter Jones has endured a disappointing 2013 campaign and surprisingly failed to win a medal at July’s World Championships in Mexico.
She is hoping to reverse her fortunes and end the year on a high next weekend.
Of the other squad members on the pitch at Old Trafford, 80kg fighter Mohammad won a bronze medal at London 2012 and could go head to head with arch rival Aaron Cook in Manchester.
Cook is the former world number controversially omitted from the British team for London 2012 and now competes for the Isle of Man.
Harvey will be looking for a return to the form which brought him a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships, while Serbian Open winner Gayle will be taking advantage of a wildcard in the 67kg division.
The British stars will not have it easy if they are to dominate in Manchester however as the 250 strong field is being billed as “one of the strongest fields ever seen”.
The event, which also offers vital qualification points ahead of Rio 2016, will be headed by six of the eight reigning Olympic champions – with only Spain’s 58kg gold medallist Joel Gonzalez and China’s 49kg winner Wu Jingyu absent.
As well as Jones, the female champions present consist of Hwang Kyung Seon of South Korea in the 67kg category and Milica Mandic of Serbia in the over 67kg division.
Three out of four London 2012 male winners have entered – Turkey Servet Tazegul 68kg, Argentina’s Sebastian Crismanich 80kg and Italy’s Carlo Molfetta over 80kg.
Source: InsidetheGames (Nick Butler)