Olympic champion Jade Jones is set for an emotional appearance in front of her home crowd in Manchester where she takes on the world’s top Taekwondo athletes.
Jones leads the Great Britain challenge in the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix at Manchester Central from Friday, October 24, to Sunday, October 25.
The event, which will attract the world’s top 250 athletes across eight weight categories, carries vital ranking points as part of the qualification process for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Jade became Britain’s first Olympic Taekwondo gold medallist with her stunning triumph in the -57 kg category in London in 2012 when team-mate Lutalo Muhammad won a bronze medal in the -80 kg weight division.
Jade, from Flint, North Wales, said: “At the halfway point between London and Rio, I’m in a really good place physically and mentally. There’s still a lot more to come from me and I’m confident looking ahead to Rio.
“I’m really looking forward to the Grand Prix in Manchester. I love performing in the UK and it means a lot to the whole GB team, particularly as we’re based here. It’s a great opportunity for sports fans to come and see us in action. All my friends and family come and watch me when I’m competing in the UK as well and I perform better when they’re there – I feel really motivated and fight harder in front of them.”
Jade will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky in the Grand Prix series which is staged in four countries during the year. At the inaugural GP in Manchester in December 2013, she lost in the final to Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez who is emerging as a serious challenger for her Olympic crown.
The pair renewed their rivalry in Kazakhstan in August when Calvo Gomez again came out on top, leaving Jones with another silver medal. Jones had missed out on a medal in the opening round in China in July, leaving Manchester and Mexico in December 2014 as her opportunity to secure that elusive Grand Prix gold.
Team-mate Lutalo Muhammad will be defending his title in Manchester. He said: “The Grand Prix has given us the perfect opportunity to perform against the world’s best in front of a home crowd. The brilliant atmosphere last year was without doubt the best I’ve experienced since the Olympics and I hope the venue will once again be packed to the rafters to help me defend my title.”
Meanwhile, Mahama Cho has collected medals in all three Grand Prix since the series started, having won gold in Manchester, silver in Kazakhstan and bronze in China.
Gary Hall, GB Taekwondo Performance Director, said: “Home support really spurred us on last year, leading to three British finalists and two winners. The Grand Prix presents a great opportunity to get up close and personal to elite level Taekwondo, to experience the speed, drama and excitement of a competition which has the added draw of valuable ranking points for Rio 2016 being up for grabs.”
Tickets for the WTF World Grand Prix in Manchester are now available from just £10 for Adults and £5 for Juniors (under 16s).
More information about tickets and the full Grand Prix schedule is available here.