Heavyweight Mahama Cho is ready to put the hammer down on his rivals again after successfully emerging from the doldrums.
The ‘Stockwell Slayer’ is named in a strong GB Taekwondo squad, including world champion Bianca Walkden, for this weekend’s Polish Open in Warsaw.
Cho’s bronze medal at the recent World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Moscow was his first significant podium place since striking silver at the US Open last January.
In between, the Manchester based fighter endured early dismissals from the World Championships and European Games. “It felt great to get back on the podium again after six months of frustration and picking up injuries,” agreed the 26-year-old Londoner.
“The frustration was a combination of everything; a lack of results and also a few self doubts. Should I change strategy? Should I change training? Should I change coaches?
“When results don’t come your way you start to ask yourself questions. And a lot of things came into my mind.
“Fortunately, the key to getting through the hard times has been the GB Taekwondo staff. The psychology to get my mind right and to ensure I maximise the training programme as much as I can has been perfect for me.
“I have done quite a lot of things differently to everyone else. So, it was great to see all the work in the gym paying off,” explained Cho, who used his trademark ‘Mahama hammer’ on his way to becoming inaugural World Grand Prix champion in December 2013.
Despite his success in Russia, Cho still faces a battle to qualify his +87kg spot for Great Britain for next year’s Olympic Games. So, Saturday’s results in Poland and the three remaining Grand Prixs of the year are crucial to his chances.
“When I am not in competition I am going to be in the gym working twice as hard to get on the podium and collect more points to hopefully qualify that top six spot at the end of the year,” he confirmed. “It’s going to be tough but it’s doable at the same time.
“I’ve been on a roller coaster this year. Hopefully now that roller coaster is going up.”
Liverpudlian Walkden was also a bronze medallist in Moscow, losing her semi-final on golden point to Turkey’s Nafia Rus. With Olympic champion Jade Jones not travelling, Walkden and European Games gold medallist, Charlie Maddock, are the only girls in the 14-strong squad.
*The second leg of the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix circuit takes the planet’s best to Samsun in Turkey from September 18-20 before Manchester hosts event three at the Regional Arena, Sportcity from October 16-18.
To catch Jones, Cho, Walkden and Co fighting on home territory for the last time before next year’s Olympics, take in the action at Manchester’s edition of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix this October. Tickets are now on sale here.
-58kg: Josh Calland (Liverpool)
-68kg: Jordan Gayle (Manchester), Michael Harvey (Manchester), Anthony Stephenson (Bury)
-80kg: Tom Smith (Poplar)
+87kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell), Lyle Walker (Law)
-49kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
+73kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
-54kg: Max Cater (Southampton)
-74 kg: Andrew Deer (Tamworth), Ben Haines (Portsmouth)
-87kg: Levi Goodridge (Farnborough), Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)