GB Taekwondo, in partnership with Manchester City Council and UK Sport, today announced the five confirmed GB Taekwondo athletes invited to compete in the inaugural World Taekwondo Grand Prix.
Olympic Champion, Jade Jones, will compete in Britain for the first time since her gold medal winning performance at London 2012 when she returns to the mat at the Grand Prix, to be held 13-15 December at Manchester Central as part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded Gold Event Series. The Flint born star, competing in the -57kg, will be joined by fellow Olympic medallist and European champion, Lutalo Muhammad, who will be competing for the first time since the Games in the -80kg – the category which also includes 2012 gold medallist, Sebastian Eduardo Crismanich and the European Champion, Aaron Cook.
Mancunian Michael Harvey will compete in the -68 kg, alongside 2012 Olympian, Martin Stamper, and the +67 Liverpudlian, Bianca Walkden – who is the final athlete of the initial cohort to be confirmed for the event in Manchester.
The full list of participants who are ranked in the WTF top 31 will be announced in the coming days. Eight further athletes will compete for Great Britain as wildcards and these additional team members are to be announced in mid November.
The event, which will see 250 of the world’s top athletes across eight different weight categories come together to battle it out for vital qualification points ahead of Rio 2016, is one of the strongest ever fields seen in the sport. All 16 of the 2013 World Championship gold medallists and all eight gold medallists from the 2012 Olympics are expected to attend the Manchester-based event, with spectacular matches expected to take place across three days of world-class Taekwondo action.
Jade Jones, who trains and is based in Manchester, anticipates a truly memorable occasion and a tough competition in which she will face China’s Yuzhuo Hou who she beat in the Olympic final, and Mayu Hamada of Japan who knocked her out of July’s World Championships. Of the event, Jones said:
“We’re now just eight weeks away from the world’s first ever Taekwondo Grand Prix and I’m delighted to be a part of the GB team confirmed to compete at the event. The support at the Games was unforgettable and I hope that when I step on the mat on December 15 that the crowd can recreate that atmosphere and support. The tournament is the first step toward Rio 2016 and with such a strong field, spectators can expect to witness matches that will make the Grand Prix an occasion not to be missed.”
Michael Harvey and Lutalo Muhammad both won gold when the 2012 European Championships was held in Manchester and acknowledge the importance of home advantage;
“There’s nothing like fighting in front of your fans,” said Harvey who competes on Sunday December 15. They give you that extra bit of motivation. To be in Manchester, where I was born and have enjoyed so much success, is fantastic.”
Ahead of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix, 11 athletes including Walkden, Stamper, Harvey and Muhammad will travel to Belgrade for the Serbian Open to be held on October 26-27. “I’m really looking forward to getting back on the mat again after winning the National Championships in September,” said Lutalo Muhammad. “These will be the last competitive matches I will have before the Grand Prix and hope that I can continue the success I’ve had into Serbia and then again in Manchester.”
The World Taekwondo Grand Prix is the final event in Manchester’s series of Autumn/Winter Major Sports Events which played host to The Super League Grand Final, NBA – The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Philadelphia 76ers, The AJ Bell World Squash Championship, The UCI Track Cycling World Cup and The Rugby League World Cup.
Taekwondo fans attending the Grand Prix can choose from three types of tickets – day, night or a combined pass, with a choice of standard and premium seats available at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/WTGP13.
Bianca Walkden +67kg Friday 13th December
Lutalo Muhammad -80kg Saturday 14th December
Jade Jones -57kg Sunday 15th December
Martin Stamper -68kg Sunday 15th December
Michael Harvey -68kg Sunday 15th December