Mixed fortunes for British athletes on opening day of World Taekwondo Grand Prix

MAHAMA Cho insists it is all systems go for Rio 2016 despite failing to retain his World Taekwondo Grand Prix title in Manchester.

Cho headed to Manchester full of confidence, having never finished outside the top three at a Grand Prix and also having won the +80kg title at last year’s event. However his assault was ended by Olympic champion Carlo Molfetta in the round of 16, the Italian winning on a golden point.

But despite the 25-year-old’s premature exit this time around, Cho admits it has done little to stunt his confidence as he aims to make his mark at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. “I always fight to the dying seconds no matter how much time is left, that’s how I fight, I never give up,” he said.

“Golden points can go either way, his timing worked well and he was the better fighter that’s why he won.

“It went right to the wire and I was expecting it. Unfortunately it wasn’t me through to the next round.

“We’re still working towards Rio but it’s a long path. We’ve got the Grand Prix Final in Mexico and World Championships next year so we are constantly working towards it.”

Elsewhere for Great Britain, wildcard entry Jade Slavin carried the flag furthest for the home team as she reached the quarter-final of the women’s +67kg. There she lost 5-0 to Olympic gold medallist Milica Mandic but there was little to dampen the 21-year-old’s mood.

She said: “I’m really proud and just relieved I did so well because I was nervous.

“I didn’t expect to win one fight as I’ve never competed at this level before; I’m pretty pleased with myself.

“It’s been my dream since I started taekwondo when I was nine so I’d love to get there [Rio]. I just have to keep training hard and entering these competitions and hopefully keep improving over time.”

Meanwhile, fellow Brits Lyle Walker and Stella Whitehead found the going much tougher, exiting in the first round. Debutant Walker had a tough opener against France’s M’Bar N’Diaye but showed encouraging signs for the future, eventually going down 16-12 to his more illustrious opponent.

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