World Championship silver medallist Damon Sansum doesn’t need omens for extra confidence these days going into major tournaments.
But when the bearded warrior saw the destination for the second event of this year’s World Taekwondo Federation World Grand Prix series, he reckoned he might be onto a winner.
The Black Sea port of Samsun is the venue for three days of competition, including Sansum’s latest bid for Rio Olympic qualification on Saturday.
“I remember years ago looking on a map, saw Samsun and thought ‘I’d like to go there,’” he said. “But I never really thought I would get here so hopefully it is meant to be.”
Elgin raised Sansum has been one of GB Taekwondo’s success stories of 2015 and has medalled in every tournament with one exception.
But any hangover from last month’s first round exit to Mali’s Ismael Coulibaly at the Moscow WGP has vanished.
“I didn’t feel as best prepared for Moscow as I might have been,” admitted Sansum, seeded five in the -80kg weight division. London 2012 bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad, is ranked eighth.
“But I fought a guy who medalled at the Worlds so there was no disgrace in losing. I just ran into a couple of head shots. He got nine points in about 10 seconds and it threw the fight around.
“It was the first time I had not medalled at a tournament this year but these things happen. But it only drives you harder. Or at least it does me.
“Some people come back and think about having to change training. But if things are going well why change? I prefer for it to happen then rather than the end of the year.”
Sansum’s consistency, including medals in America, Turkey, Egypt, Holland and Korea, has made him a marked man with his rivals, including Moldova’s Aaron Cook.
“Because I have been consistent a lot of athletes are seeing what I am doing and respecting me,” confirms 28-year-old Sansum
“I am getting to where I want to be,” added the personable Scot and former world kick boxing champion who joined the GB Academy through the Fighting Chance initiative in 2011.
“If I can improve in the next few tournaments, get to the Olympics and win gold, then I will be happy. The whole plan will have come together.”
Sansum is part of a 10-strong GB squad in Turkey, including Olympic champion Jade Jones and World Champion Bianca Walkden. The event has attracted 233 athletes from 50 nations.
Liverpudlian Walkden and Mahama Cho, both bronze medallists in Moscow, are in action tomorrow (Friday) in their respective heavyweight divisions.
”I got a medal in Moscow but not the one I wanted, “said sixth seed Walkden.“Hopefully, I can get gold this time and the 40 ranking points. Everyone is a threat but hopefully I am a threat too.”
*To watch Olympic champion Jade Jones, World Championship gold medallist, Bianca Walkden, and Britain’s other top stars 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 from October 16-18. Tickets are now on sale at http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp
+80kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
+67kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
-58kg: Max Cater (Southampton)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow), Damon Sansum (Elgin)
-49kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
-68kg: Jordan Gayle (Manchester), Martin Stamper (Liverpool)
-57kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan), Jade Jones (Flint)