Newly crowned World Champion Bianca Walkden. along with London 2012 Olympians Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad, spearhead a Baku bound Great Britain squad for the European Games with a “great track record” of competing in Azerbaijan.
And GB Performance Director, Gary Hall, believes this first ever Euro multi sports gathering from June 12-28 can be a springboard towards qualification for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
Olympic champion Jones, 2012 bronze medallist Muhammad, Ruebyn Richards and Bianca Walkden are part of the seven strong team that won medals at last year’s European Championships in the Azerbaijan capital. Only France bettered Britain’s final tally of seven that included gold for Liverpudlian Walkden.
“The Azerbaijanis love their combat sports,” confirmed Hall. “They are good at the boxing, they are good at the wrestling and they are good at the taekwondo.
“But we have a great track record of performing very well in Azerbaijan and the team is looking forward to it.
“The other important thing for us about the Games is it is another G4 event. That means a decent amount of ranking points on offer towards Rio qualification
“This is going to be a great opportunity for athletes to learn how to perform and gain experience of a multi sports event which mimics almost identically the Olympic Games.
“But before we even get to Baku it is a great achievement to get seven athletes selected.
“Six months ago we didn’t have a -58kg male or a -49kg female on the radar. But Max Cater and Charlie Maddock have come along and stamped their mark on those two weight categories.
“Hopefully, this can be a springboard for them to qualify for Rio next year as well. I am sure they will be keen to put that experience to use later on in their careers.”
Cater, 17, from Southampton won a Commonwealth senior title last year and has gone on to collect gold medals at the Bosnia and Swiss Opens.
Former kickboxer Maddock, 19 from Stoke on Trent, won three titles in 2014 after joining the GB Acdemy through the Fighting Chance initiative and has supplemented the tally with bronze medals in Luxor and Spain this year.
For world number two Jones, it’s a chance to improve upon last year’s European Championship silver medal. Named as an ambassador for Baku 2015 she says:”I’m lucky to have experienced both the Olympics at London 2012 and the Youth Olympics in Singapore.
“So, I’m sure that the European Games will prove to be another memorable experience in what is a great city. I’m looking forward to being part of a fantastic British team in Baku where we’ll be looking to make our GB fans very proud.”
-58kg:Max Cater (Southampton)
-68kg: Ruebyn Richards (Nottingham)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)
+80 kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
-49kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
-57 kg: Jade Jones (Flint)
+67kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)