Last gasp Bianca Walkden wins first world title

Bianca Walkden, World Taekwondo Championships FINAL, 2015 160515, rights free courtesy of GB Taekwondo (4)
Emotional Bianca Walkden described her final victory at the WTF World Championships in Russia tonight as “mind blowing.”

The 23-year-old Manchester trained Liverpudlian heavyweight defeated veteran Gwladys Epangue 4-2 at +73kg to become Britain’s first world gold medallist since Sarah Stevenson in 2011.

And tomorrow (Sunday) London 2012 golden girl Jade Jones hopes to emulate her friend and housemate when competing in the -57kg division.

All ‘Queen B’s’ points against France’s twice world gold medallist and triple European champion came in a dramatic last 10 seconds.

Walkden, adding the world crown to last year’s Euro success, had an appeal for a face shot rejected and trailed her 31-year-old rival 2-0 as the clock ticked down.

However, a lapse of concentration allowed Walkden to whip in a three point head shot followed by the award of a penalty point to complete a sensational triumph.

Momentarily, the stunned new champion didn’t know she’d won before setting off on a victory lap of the mat and lifting coach Paul Green off his feet in Chelyabinsk’s Traktor Ice Arena.

Victory was particularly sweet for the popular fighter, overcoming two serious knee injuries in the last four years to climb to the top of the podium.

“I’m the new heavyweight champion of the world and honestly, I’m so happy,” said Walkden. “It’s unbelievable.

“To have had my knee troubles and to come back like this, it is such an emotional win.

“It just shows it’s all about your head and your heart as well.

“I really want to thank everyone, my coach and the team who have supported me and got me back fighting and winning. To come back and to be world champion is mind blowing.”

On her final success Walkden added:”I thought I’d pulled it back with a head shot close to the end but it wasn’t given.

“At that point I really thought I’d lost it with time running out for me. But I gave it one last go and went high again and I got her.

“Now, I’m standing here with a gold medal round my neck. Unbelievable.”

Walkden reached the final with three wins on Friday followed by a 10-3 semi-final success against Nafia Kus. The two met earlier this season in the Turkish Open final but thanks to a ‘double impact’, six points scoring head shot in round three, Walkden gained revenge thanks to a 10-3 victory.

Jade Slavin made a perfect start to her first ever World Championship campaign, beating Pakistan’s Najia Rasool 16-0, helped by her distinct height and reach advantage.

But the long legged former model from Consett faced a far sterner test in her second outing against Mexican Maria Espinoza. The 27-year-old Central American fighter, world champion back in 2007, quickly notched a 3-0 lead, allowing her to dictate the rest of the fight.

Slavin, 22, did register two points but Espinoza finished a comfortable 5-2 winner. I may not have got the medal gold but it has been great experience for me,” she said. “And I gained 12 ranking points. Every little helps.”

Heavyweight Mahama Cho, a World Grand Prix champion in 2013, also suffered an early exit. A first round bye was followed by a 7-6 defeat against Ivory Coast’s Firmin Zokou despite holding a 3-1 lead in the second round.

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