World number two Jade Jones bemoaned another defeat to long-time rival Eva Calvo Gomez after losing on a golden point in the final of -57kg category at Manchester’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix.
Calvo Gomez secured her third straight grand prix victory, having won the first two of the year in China and Kazakhstan, defeating Jones in overtime after a 4-4 draw over three rounds.
The Brit had earlier romped into the final, beating Japan’s Mayu Hamada in the semi-final 12-0, but was unable to pick her way past the tall figure of the world number one.
“She’s a really good player, but I’m getting better and better,” said a frustrated Jones.
“I keep making the same mistakes. 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.”
The partisan Manchester crowd roared every Jones kick and punch but her Spanish opponent, who edged past Ah-Reum Lee in her semi-final, secured yet another gold medal.
“I’m very pleased because I knew it was going to be a very hard fight against Jade, it always is,” said the 23-year-old. “She’s a really great fighter and I’m really happy to have won.
“Every championship against Jade it’s always a really hard match, usually a golden point. She’s so explosive and she’s physically stronger than me.
“Personally I like the golden point because I only ever fight one point at a time.
“I was really stressed, obviously because it was a final, but I like the golden point.”
Jones’ performances even drew plaudits from Chung-won Choue, president of the World Taekwondo Federation.
“Jade is very good and she’s still young, so she could even win another Olympic gold medal in the Rio games,” said the South Korean.
Dr Choue also praised the organisation of the event, which was inaugurated in Manchester in December 2013.
“The level of support for taekwondo here is excellent – not only the fans’ enthusiasm but also the financial support from organisers here has been really good.”
Moments before the women’s final, Jaouad Achab came within six seconds of upsetting the world number one Dae-Hoon Lee in the men’s -68kg category final.
The Belgian had already upset the odds, beating world champion Iranian Behnam Asbaghikhanghah in the quarter-final by a dramatic golden point.
Achab started explosively in the final, scoring an early headshot and taking a 7-1 lead, but the world number one reeled him in, striking the Belgian’s head to take the title by a single point.
“This Grand Prix is a very high level and it was very difficult to make it to the final,” said the 21-year-old Achab.
“I was winning in the first round but he’s the world number one so it was not going to be so easy.
“I’m not sure how much confidence this will give me, but I just work hard whatever happens and hopefully it’ll be enough to get to the Olympics.
“This Grand Prix is a very high level and it was very difficult to make it to the final.”
The star-studded field took a blow when European champion Servet Tazegul withdrew at the last minute, and 2013 Manchester champion Alexey Denisenko was beaten in the round of 16.
However, Lee suffered no such mishaps, beating compatriot Hun Kim, Portugal’s Mario Silva, and Denisenko’s conqueror Jiannan Huang in the semi-final to set up his clash with Achab.
The final medal table was topped by Iran with two golds and two third-place finishes ahead of Spain’s two golds, while South Korea, Russia, Serbia and Germany all claimed one victory apiece as hosts Britain picked up two silvers.