Jade Jones returns to action for the first time since winning European Games gold in June as part of Great Britain’s 10-strong squad for next month’s opening event of the 2015 WTF World Grand Prix series in Moscow (August 14-16).
The 22-year-old Olympic champion won the overall WGP overall series at -57kg in Mexico last December. She was also voted WTF female athlete of the year.
Jones will be joined in the same weight division by Lancashire teenager and 2015 World Championship bronze medallist Rachelle Booth. The 19-year-old from Wigan moves down from -62kg after her silver medal at last weekend’s Chuncheon Open in South Korea.
Unlike Welsh star Jones,reigning world champion Bianca Walkden has never won a WGP gold medal. But the Liverpool born heavyweight, a WGP bronze medallist in China last July, will be the one her rivals want to avoid in the first of four Grand Prix tournaments over the next five months, including a Manchester leg from October 16-18.
Indeed, Manchester provided plenty of home comforts for locally trained pair, Lutalo Muhammad and Mahama Cho, title winners at the inaugural Grand Prix in December 2013.
They will be keen to revive those successes as qualification for Rio 2016 hots up while Scot Damon Sansum is another former GP medal winner from Astana in 2014.
In contrast, 17-year-old Max Cater will make his Grand Prix debut in Russia after a year of success including victories at the Bosnia and Swiss Opens.
So too will Charlie Maddock, 19, in the women’s competition. The Stoke on Trent born prospect became Britain’s first female European Games gold medallist in Baku, beating team mate Jones to the punch by 24 hours.
Experienced duo, Mancunian Jordan Gayle and new dad, Martin Stamper, complete the squad line-up at -68kg.
“The GP series is a high quality event which carries significant ranking points for all athletes as they aim to qualify a quota place for their nation at the Rio Olympics,” confirms GB Performance Director, Gary Hall.
“This series will be GB Taekwondo’s key focus over the next six months. And with a GP event being hosted by Manchester the athletes are looking forward to competing and keeping their place in the series.”
*Tickets to suit all budgets, including three-day passes, are already on sale for the three day Manchester leg of the Grand Prix series. Single sessions are available from £10 for adults, with all day (combined) tickets starting from £20. Juniors (Under 16) go half price. Click here to purchase.
Schedule and Squad:
August 14: +87kg Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
August 15: -58kg Max Cater (Southampton), -80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow), Damon Sansum (Elgin)
August 16: -68kg Jordan Gayle (Manchester), Martin Stamper (Liverpool)
August 14: +67kg Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
August 15: -49kg Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
August 16: -57kg Rachelle Booth (Wigan), Jade Jones (Flint)