GB Boss Hall Happy With World Results But Wants Further Improvement

Bianca Walkden, World Taekwondo Championships FINAL, 2015 160515, rights free courtesy of GB Taekwondo (4)
GB Performance Director Gary Hall refuses to go overboard by Britain’s second best ever World Championship showing insisting: “It could have been better.”

The National Lottery funded, Manchester based squad returned from Russia earlier this week bringing back back a full set of medals from seven days of competition. That total was surpassed only in 2011 when four medals were won in Mexico.

Already +73 kg gold medallist, Bianca Walkden, -80kg silver medallist Damon Sansum and -62kg bronze medallist, Rachelle Booth, have returned to training.

“There is a real sense of achievement which is tangible,” agreed Hall. “But there is also a sense of slight disappointment that it could have been better.

“There were were a couple that got away. But we are involved in this sport to sort out the ones that got away and capitalise on the ones that delivered.

“Jade Jones was really unfortunate and there were other guys who didn’t quite hit the mark they were expecting. We also saw London 2012 bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad, withdraw with injury prior to the Championships.

“But we have a system in Manchester to allow us to go away to assess and analyse. Internal competition will get stronger and stronger to make sure we do better at future major competitions.”

Walkden, 23, can double up her gold tally at next month’s inaugural European Games in Baku. And after two major knee operations in the last four years, Hall is delighted ‘Queen B’ finally rules the world.

“To win a world title has been Bianca’s absolute dream,” said Hall. “Technically speaking, after all she has been through with the injuries, she shouldn’t have been there.

“But she has worked exceptionally hard and been determined to succeed. However, it has also been a team medal because the  doctors, the conditioners, the psychologists and the coaches worked tremendously hard to get her back in great shape,”

Sansum, 28, knocked out Moldovan newcomer Aaron Cook on his way to adding a World silver to last year’s European silver.

“Damon was really solid throughout but it wasn’t a surprise,” added Hall. “He had won significant events already this year and this is great testament to the progress he has made and continues to make.

“He is driven to be the best. He works, he analyses and he reflects to improve all the time.”

Sansum, a former kick boxing world champion, joined the GB Academy through the UK Sport backed ‘Fighting Chance’ talent identification programme in 2009. Four years later Wigan born Booth came through to the same system and has progressed to become a world bronze medallist.

“Rachelle has got a great future ahead of her,” confirmed Hall. “She listens to the advice and is learning really quickly. Her performance was all the more noteworthy as two weeks before the Championships she injured her ankle and was on crutches.

“And it was only four days before her first fight when she passed her fitness test.”

The squad’s biggest disappointment was a quarter-final exit for Olympic champion, Jones, beaten by technology and Iranian Kimia Zenoorin. Jones, an ambassador for the forthcoming Euro Games in Azerbaijan, lost 10-9 but only after the scoring system froze and failed to register a three-point scoring back kick.

“Jade is still queen of that category,” insisted Hall. “She clearly hit which would have taken the score to 12-9 in her favour.

“Being as prolific as she is I am sure Jade would have hung on for the victory.

“It was unfortunate she lose like that. But there are things we will take away and learn from to try and ensure it doesn’t happen again.” Jones and Walkden are two of seven GB athletes fighting at the European Games.

They will also be two of the stars taking part Manchester’s leg of the World Grand Prix from October 16-18. Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp) while all information about the event can be found at www.taekwondogp.com

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