Olympic champion Jade Jones insists the future of British taekwondo is bright after the 21-year-old and Rachelle Booth wowed the home crowd at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester.
Jones claimed a silver medal, narrowly losing the final against Eva Calvo Gomez on a golden point, while wildcard Booth produced a series of upsets to reach the quarter-finals.
The pair, who compete in the same -57kg category and regularly train together, were highly complimentary of each other’s dedication.
“Rachelle is amazing, coming from ITF like I did. I train with her all the time at the gym and I found her awkward so she’s been helping me in my training too,” said Jones.
Booth, still a teenager, was participating in her first ever Grand Prix and paid tribute to her training partner.
“Being in the same team as Jade is the best thing for me really,” Booth said. “Jade’s got a great attitude so that definitely rubs off on me and it does spur you on.”
Jones defeated Jessica Chavez, Sohee Kim and Mayu Hamada to reach the final, which she almost won after clawing her way back to 4-4 late in the third round.
“It’s frustrating losing on a golden point,” Jones said.
“She’s a really good player and I’m getting better and better, but to lose golden point again, the finest of margins, it’s frustrating.
“She’s got long leg length and I like to stand and fight at a distance, so it makes it easy for her to kick me without me getting a shot back in. I just need to improve that.”
Booth knocked out world number four Floriane Liborio, and Olympic quarter-finalist Suvi Mikkonen, before losing out to Korea’s Ah-Reum Lee in the quarter-final.
“It was a great day, it’s all good experience,” said 19-year-old Booth. “I’ll go away and look at that last performance to see where I went wrong and correct it for next time.
“It’s amazing to be able to compete at home. It’s my first major event, but it’s such an honour to do it here.”
Meanwhile, Michael Harvey secured his first ever Grand Prix victory in the men’s -68kg category with a golden point victory over Moldovan Vladislav Arventii.
Harvey fell at the next hurdle to world champion Behnam Asbaghikhanghah, but held his own against a highly experienced opponent.
“It was tough, I knew it would be because he’s a good fighter but I love competing in front of a home crowd and they gave me that extra edge to bring me back up each time,” said the 25-year-old from Hyde.
“I was feeling confident coming into the Grand Prix, and it was great to get my first win out of the way. I can go and do a few open tournaments now and build up some form.”
Elsewhere, Martin Stamper lost in the first round, going down 10-9 to Olympic silver medallist Mohammad Bagheri in a closely-fought match.
Stamper said: “I’m disappointed, obviously, with the result because I came here in peak condition so there are no excuses. I know at my best I would have won but I was only at about 90 per cent today.
“I just wish it was a better result today because all my family have come down so that’s probably the most disappointing thing.”
And wildcard entry Jordan Gayle lost out in the last second of his first-round bout against Portugal’s Mario Silva, almost winning despite a 100-place ranking difference between the two fighters.
“This is the second time I’ve lost in the last second in Manchester, but it’s great to have your family able to come and watch you in a big event like this which is almost a World Championships,” Gayle said.