Jubilant Jade Jones lived unto her ‘Headhunter’ nickname with a stunning demolition of Spanish nemesis Eva Calvo Gomez to delight a partisan home crowd at the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix final in Manchester.
But there was heartbreak for housemate Bianca Walkden after the world champion again missed out on a first Grand Prix crown against China’s Shuyin Zheng.
London 2012 golden girl Jones, in her seventh out of a possible eight Grand Prix -57kg finals, faced similar disappointment when she trailed the world number two 4-1.
However, the Flint star, 22, blasted three quick fire shots into her shell-shocked rival’s head in round two to turn the match round.
“I felt back to me,” grinned happy Jones, after a 14-4 victory saw her collect a second successive Grand Prix gold medal and cheque for $5.000
“At the start of the day I was really nervous because being on home soil you always have that extra bit of pressure.
“But I knew I had already qualified the final -57kg spot for Rio so I thought ‘enjoy it. do my very best’ and it paid off.
“I had a dip after London but since then I have been getting better and better. Hopefully, I will keep improving ahead of Rio.
“I have learned everyone loses, you are not a champion unless you have lost.
“But this was one of the first times in a while I have felt really strong and enjoying it rather than surviving.”
Jones reached the final by avenging this season’s controversial World Championship defeat to Iranian Kimia Zenoorin and knocking out Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic in the semi-finals.
She drew first blood against her Scandinavian rival only to be tied at 1-all going into the final three minutes.
Jones then left it until the last 20 seconds before delivering a winning head shot and survived late penalty points trouble to scrape into her latest GP final.
Walkden, 24,was forced into sudden death in both semi-final and final. But while edging out world number one and Olympic champion, Milica Mandic, to reach a second successive Grand Final, she lost on golden point to Asian ace Zheng.
“I am happy because I got to the final, got a lot more points towards Rio and a good chance for me to stay in the top six,” said the Liverpudlian fighter. “But I really wanted gold. I didn’t think she touched me and I am devastated it went to sudden death. But these things happen.
“Hopefully, all these losses will help me become Olympic champion in 2016. I should be really proud of myself but because I have got such high expectations of myself then I am not happy,”
Walkden led Mandic 1-0 going into the last three minutes and briefly thought she’d landed back-to-back head kicks to lead 7-1. Instead, both were disallowed after two video reviews and Walkden was penalised for holding.
Two minutes of golden point stalemate followed before Walkden was awarded the fight for attacking superiority.
Earlier, Calvo-Gomez ended Rachelle Booth’s tournament interest in the second round after the Wigan girl produced a stirring first round to lead 3-1. The four-times Grand Prix gold medallist responded in true champion style to register nine of the next 11 points.
“The first round was obviously good but in the second I made too many mistakes, “admitted Booth. “So, I’ve got to go back to the gym and work on it.
“She is such a tall opponent and difficult to get round. You have got to stay mentally strong and persist through the clash. I did it once or twice but the other times I didn’t
“It’s really upsetting, especially fighting in front of a home crowd and not being able to repay everyone by winning for them.
“I can see myself improving but I need to go away and assess this result.”
Liverpool teenager Josh Calland made the perfect start against Serbian Milos Gladovic and led 5-0 after the first round.
But the 18-year-old couldn’t sustain his flying start and eventually lost 13-8. “I was moving well in the first round and got in some good head shots,” he explained.
“But in the second round when he started to change his game, I was trying to change mine instead of keeping to what I was doing. But I tried my best.”
Southampton teenager Max Cater won his first ever Grand Prix match beating China’s Shuai Zhao 7-6. He led Mohamed Si Ketbi 3-0 in the last 16 only to lose 12-5. “I saw the draw and thought ‘I have got to believe in myself and think I am going to win,” explained Cater
“It was hard but I knew I had to try my best in front of a home crowd. It is good getting the sparring and the experience of fighting these guys. I want to try and get to Rio but Tokyo 2020 is where I want to push for.”
Eva Calvo Gomez (Spain) bt Mayu Hamada (Japan) 4-3
Jade Jones (Great Britain) bt Nikita Glasnovic (Sweden) 4-3
Jones bt Calvo Gomez 14-4
Shuyin Zheng (China) bt Nafia Kus (Turkey) 5-1
Bianca Walkden (Great Britain) bt Milica Mandic (Serbia) on golden point , after match finished 1-1
Zheng bt Walkden on golden point after match finished 1-1.
Nursultan Mamayev (Kazakhstan) w/o Tae-Hun Kim (South Korea)-injured
Jesus Tortosa Cabrera (Spain) bt Farzan Ashourzadeh Fallah (Iran) on golden point, 8-8 after match finished.
Mamayev bt Tortosa Cabrera