Warrior Spirit-Lutalo Stuns World Champion On Way To World Grand Prix Silver Medal

Lutalo Muhammad added a silver lining to Great Britain’s WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix campaign with his country’s third medal of the three-day event at Manchester’s Regional Arena.

The London 2012 bronze medallist knocked out World champion and world number one, Mahdi Khodabakhshi, in the semi-finals as well as compatriots Damon Sansum and Tom Smith.

But Tunisia’s Oussama Oueslati proved a step too far in the final and Muhammad slipped to a 16-6, -80kg defeat. China’s Jingyu Wu defeated Thailand’s Chanatip Sonkham 10-3 in the women’s -49kg final.

“I had a strategy and a tactic but he got an early lead and I was playing catch-up from the beginning,” said ‘Walthamstow Warrior’ Muhammad.

“I really wanted gold but I should be happy I was able to make this Grand Prix. And making it onto the podium in front of a home crowd is a blessing in itself.

“This is the highlight of my year. It is like an extension of the London Games, I love competing in the UK and we only do it once a year.

“So, it would have been super special to get the gold but I have got some bling around my neck, a little cheque (for $3,000) and I beat the world champion.”

For 19-year-old Oueslati, it was the latest and greatest of a succession of titles in 2015 after victories in Egypt, Luxor, Qatar and Spain. He knocked out Ivory Coast’s Moscow Grand Prix champion, Cheick Sallah Cisse in the last four. The -80kg division also provided another shock with the last 16 and first match defeat of Moldova’s former GB international, Aaron Cook, against China’s Sen Ciao

Roared on by another partisan Manchester crowd and aiming to emulate his 2013 Grand Prix triumph, Muhammad scored 63 points in his opening three bouts before taking on Khodabakhshi for a place in the final. And he boosted his tally to 66 before the Middle East favourite fought back into the contest.

It finished 4-all after the second round with Khodabakhshi receiving treatment prior to the final round. And he suffered further setbacks as the Londoner pulled out all the stops to complete a 9-5 win.

“That was one of the positives from this tournament,” said Muhammad of his prized scalp. “I want to show everyone I am the top athlete in the GB Academy.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to the World Championships due to injury but I am coming back stronger from it. I just want to keep proving I am the man for the job in Rio.”

Muhammad led  World Championship silver medallist, Sansum, 11-4 after the first round but that advantage had been trimmed to four points going into the final round.

Sansum closed to within three points at one stage but Muhammad held his nerve and finished with a last second head shot to complete a 20-13 victory.

“Damon is a true champion and he pushed me in that fight,” said the victor. “We know each other so well.

“Other rivalries have been mentioned in the build up to this. But there is nothing but respect between the two of us. I hope this continues.

“It is good for the sport, we have got two of the best in the world training in the same gym and it makes classic matches like that. I am just so happy we were able to make it happen.”

Disappointed Sansum said:“Lutalo scored well in the first round and racked up the points. I probably didn’t respect the distance enough.

“In the second round I pulled it back and changed the tactics and tried to counter. But he has got a long leg and was scoring as I tried to counter.

“I chased it towards the end when I have got to go for it and he got me with a head shot. It’s not good to lose at this stage but the goal is Rio and we are both in the top eight.

“I am not going to take it as a major setback but congratulations to Lutalo.”

Smith’s only appearance in front of a home crowd wasn’t as enjoyable as he had hoped. In the first all-GB Academy shown down of the day, the Poplar hopeful was stopped after two rounds of show down against Muhammad.

“It didn’t go as I planned and I just want get out there again as soon as possible and put it right,” he said.

Liverpool teenager Abigail Stones , 17, acquitted herself well on her Grand Prix debut, just a fortnight after becoming a senior group member of the GB Academy.

“It was just a privilege to go in there and try my best,” said Stones after a last 16, 2-0 defeat to Itzel Manjarrez from Mexico at -49kg. “It wasn’t the outcome I wanted but I couldn’t have done anymore.”

Results:

-80kg

Tom Smith (Poplar)

Round One: lost 29-8 to Lutalo Muhammad (Great Britain)

Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow)

Round One: bt Tom Smith (Great Britain) 29-8

Round Two: bt Julio Ferreira (Portugal) 14-11

Quarter-final: bt Damon Sansum 20-13

Semi-final: bt Mahdi Khodabakhshi (Iran) 9-5

Final: lost 16-5 to Oussama Oueslati (Tunisia) 16-6

 

Damon Sansum (Elgin)

Round One: Bye

Round Two: bt Yunus Sari (Turkey) 12-9

Quarter-final: lost 20-13 to Lutalo Muhammad (Great Britain)

 

Female

-49kg

Abigail Stones (Liverpool)

Round One: Bye

Round Two: lost 2-0 to Itzel Manjarrez (Mexico)

 

Other Results:

Semi-final and Final results:

Female

-49kg

Jingyu Wu (China) bt Tijana Bogdanovic (Serbia) 19-7

Chanatip Sonkham (Thailand) bt Patimat Abakarova (Azerbaijan) 10-3

Final:

Wu bt Sonkham 12-0.

-80kg:

Semi-finals:

Lutalo Muhammad (Great Britain) bt Mahdi Khodabakhshi (Iran) 9-5

Oussama Oueslati (Tunisia) bt Cheick Sallah Cisse (Ivory Coast) 17-14

Final:

Oueslati bt Muhammad 16-5

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Day 3 Draw

TGP-2015

The Draw for Day 3 (Sunday, 18 October) of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix has been made and can be viewed here.

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Head Girl Jones Is Top Of The World Grand Prix Class In Manchester

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.”

 

Results:

-57kg

Semi-finals:

Eva Calvo Gomez (Spain) bt Mayu Hamada (Japan) 4-3

Jade Jones (Great Britain) bt Nikita Glasnovic (Sweden) 4-3

Final:

Jones bt Calvo Gomez 14-4

 

+67kg

Semi-finals

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

Final:

Zheng bt Walkden on golden point after match finished 1-1.

 

-58kg

Semi-finals:

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.

Final:

Mamayev bt Tortosa Cabrera

 

 

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Love-Lee. South Korea Wins First Gold Medal Of WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix In Manchester

South Korea’s Dae-Hoon Lee claimed the first gold medal of the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix to end the run of Brit basher, Abolfazl Yaghoubijouybari.

Lee, 23, and world champion in 2013, beat his Iranian rival 16-7 in the -68kg weight division final.

But it was a weary Yaghoubijouybari who collected his silver medal. After knocking out Michael Harvey and Martin Stamper he edged out Moroccan born 2015 world champion Jaouad Achab 5-4 in the quarters.

He was then involved in a remarkable semi-final against crowd favourite, Servet Tazegul. London 2012 champion and double world gold medallist Turkish favourite Tazegul, 27, trailed 16-5 but hit back to lead 18-17 and 22-21.

However, his Middle East rival forced extra time in the closing stages before striking golden point five seconds into sudden death. Lee was involved in his own last four thriller, beating Moscow Grand Prix winner and compatriot, Hun Kim 12-11.

Haby Niare claimed gold in the women’s -67kg final after a cagey battle with 2012 Olympic and 2013 World Championship silver medallist, Nur Tatar- a repeat of their European Games bronze medal clash.

Turk Tatar swept through her first three matches without dropping a point and then had to dig deep to knockout Korean Hyeri Oh in the 6-5 in the semi-final.

Niare, world champion in 2013, fought past Chuang Chia Chia of Chinese Taipei at the penultimate hurdle to reach her first Grand Prix final of 2015. The 23-year-old French star, nicknamed the ‘Abigator, then controlled the final to claim the crown.

World heavyweight champion Dmitriy Shokin snapped up the third and final gold medal of the opening night in dramatic fashion at +80kg.

The Uzbekistan star was seconds away from defeat against Rafael Castillo but a penalty point against his Cuban opponent took the final into sudden death. And it was 23-year Shokin who eventually prevailed to add to his list of 2015 successes in Turkey, Qatar, Russia Australia and Korea.

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Mahama Still Upbeat After Painful Grand Prix Exit

Heavyweight Mahama Cho remains optimistic he can still make an Olympic Games debut in Rio next summer despite HIS early exit from the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester today. (Friday)

Hampered by a lateral knee ligament injury suffered at last weekend’s Belgrade Open in Serbia, Cho lost 13-8 in round two against Iran’s Omid Amidi in the +80kg weight class.

And the Iranians proved a scourge of home fighters with eventual silver medallist, Abolfazl Yaghoubijouybari, defeating Olympians, Michael Harvey and Martin Stamper at -68kg.

“I don’t class it as a chance gone,” insisted Cho, Great Britain’s first ever Grand Prix champion in December 2013.

“It was definitely a big improvement from where I was six months ago. But I have got to get the leg right and start to pick up points.

“After that you never know what might happen between now and the end of the year. All is doable.

“I am not ruling myself out of Rio. I always fight to the end. That’s the kind of person I am so I m going to carry on battling.”

Cho revealed he picked up the injury in unusual circumstances during his semi-final bout in Belgrade.

“I kicked my Russian opponent but it didn’t land on the athlete, it landed on the referee! I tried to stay as comfortable as possible today which is why I fought like I did.

“I didn’t want to re-injure it or make it worse. But we have the best medical staff in the world at GB Taekwondo and I am sure they are going to come up with a solution to get me back in the ring as quickly as possible.”

Cho, who scored a late three-point head shot to beat Cuban Robelis Despaigne in his first bout, trailed World University Games gold medallist Amidi 11-1 after the opening two rounds and despite a brave final rally in the last three minutes couldn’t claw back the entire deficit.

London 2012 Olympian Martin Stamper also paid for a slow start in his last 16 tie with Yagoubijouybari, losing 16-6.

“I fought him in Turkey where I was blocking his shots quite well,” said the dad of two and 2011 World Championship bronze medallist.

“So, I was surprised when he was scoring in the first round because I thought I had blocked his shots.

“But I should have been out of distance anyway and it cost me. I was 5-2 down after the first round against someone who is world class and who has picked up medals in the last two Grand Prix.

“I felt my shots were there but he is good at reading distance and he was always a danger.”

Earlier, Yagoubijouybari, a 2015 World Bronze medallist and double Grand Prix bronze medallist defeated 2011 World Championship silver medallist, Michael Harvey, 12-1.

“I can’t put my finger on what went wrong,” admitted the dejected Mancunian. “I felt good coming into the fight and never expected to lose 12-1. I don’t expect to lose 12-1 to anyone in the world.

“It’s back to the drawing board and see where I go from here. It is a difficult situation for me at the moment.”

Fellow Mancunian Jordan Gayle also exited in the opening round, beaten 16-2 by Mexican Saul Gutierrez.

“It was one of those fights where sometimes closer defeats are harder to take than that score line,” said Gayle. “He scored the kicks on the day and I didn’t. It was very hard to come back from that first round.

“I am not sure what’s next. I will have to go away and assess this result. But it was very disappointing to go out like that, especially fighting in front of a home crowd.”

Glaswegian doctor Carla Summerhill isn’t yet ready to resume her career in obstetrics and gynecology after a promising Grand Prix debut.

“On a different day that match could have gone another way,” said the 28-year-old following a 3-1 defeat against Spain’s Lua Pineiro. “It was neck and neck. I am no way outclassed at this level.

“I probably don’t have enough sparring partners to work with of all different sizes. But I am working on getting to training camps and hoping to come down to the GB Academy in Manchester to train.”

Fellow Scot Lyle Walker also failed to clear the opening hurdle at +80kg but was again boosted by his display against Spaniard Daniel Ros Gomez.

“I am sure with more experiences and more competitions like this, I will be in the top 32, fighting these guys on a regular basis,” said the 20-year-old from Law.

“If you are fighting the best in the world, there is no way you are not going to improve.  I know I can do it; I just need to improve on those little margins.”

Results:

-68kg:

Michael Harvey (Manchester)

Round One: lost 12-1 to Abolfazl Yaghoubijouybari (Iran)

Martin Stamper (Liverpool)

Round One: bt Abel Mendoza (Mexico) 20-8

Round Two: lost 16-6 to Abolfazl Yaghoubijouybari (Iran)

Jordan Gayle (Manchester)

Round One: lost to 16-2 to Saul Gutierrez (Mexico)

+80kg:

Mahama Cho (Stockwell)

Round one: bt Robelis Despaigne (Cuba) 7-5

Round two: lost 13-8 to Omid Amidi (Iran)

Lyle Walker (Law)

Round one: lost 8-4 to Daniel Ros Gomez (Spain)

Female:

-67kg:

Carla Summerhill (Glasgow)

Round One lost 3-1 to Lua Pineiro (Spain)

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Day 2 Draw

TGP-2015

The Draw for Day 2 (Saturday, 17 October) of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix has been made and can be viewed here.

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Brit Pack Aiming To Be World Leaders At Manchester’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix

TGB 33
It’s all kicking off in Manchester this weekend as Great Britain’s stars take on the rest of the world in a final competitive outing on home soil before next summer’s Rio Olympic Games.

The Regional Arena, Sportcity is the venue for the WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix when 15 Brits, including Olympic and World champions, Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden, compete alongside nearly 250 international stars for medals, prize money and qualification points towards Rio.

Having won at least one medal at the seven Grand Prixs held since and including the inaugural tournament in December 2013, British players are determined to protect that proud record in front of a partisan crowd.

However, they won’t have it easy once the action starts tomorrow (Friday) on day one of three. The eight Olympic weight categories, to be decided from -49kg females to heavyweight +80kg men, are liberally sprinkled with taekwondo stardust.

London 2012 golden girl, Jones, will certainly have her work cut out with three-time 2014 Grand Prix winner, Eva Calvo Gomez. But the ‘Headhunter’ shouldn’t drop her guard either if she faces Iranian wonder kid, Kimia Zenoorin or Japan’s reigning world champion, Mayu Hamada.

Olympic bronze medallist, Lutalo Muhammad and 2015 World Championship runner-up Damon Sansum are Britain’s medal hopes at -80kg. But both are fully aware of the threat posed by Iranian powerhouse and rankings leader, Mahdi Khodabakhski.

Liverpudlian Walkden has yet to win a World Taekwondo Grand Prix gold medal but she is getting closer with bronze and silver in Russia and Turkey earlier this year. Serbia’s Milica Mandic tops the rankings while American Jackie Galloway – Walkden’s sudden death conqueror in last month’s +67kg GP final-is also in action.

“I do think I should have gold already but hopefully I can put that right in Manchester,” says the former world number two. “It would be great to have the full set.”

Despite her unmistakable Merseyside roots, Walkden won’t just have British fans cheering her on. “I’ve got a multi cultural family,” smiles ‘Queen B’. “My granddad is Italian and my stepdad is Iranian.

“I know a few words of each language but I’m not saying what they mean,” she laughs. “Hopefully, I’ll give them something to cheer about.”

There are a few tickets available for all three days but anyone unable to attend can watch live action via http://www.gbtaekwondo.co.uk/watch-the-world-taekwondo-grand-prix-live/ And for all the information about tickets and the full Grand Prix schedule visit the event website www.taekwondogp.com

GB squad for WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix, Regional Arena, Manchester, October 16-18:

Male:

-58kg: Josh Calland (Liverpool), Max Cater (Southampton); fight day October 17

-68kg: Jordan Gayle (Manchester), Michael Harvey (Manchester), Martin Stamper (Liverpool); fight day October 16

-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow), Damon Sansum (Elgin), Tom Smith (Poplar); fight day October 18

+80kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell), Lyle Walker (Law); fight day October 16

Female:

-49kg:Abigail Stones (Liverpool); fight day October 18

-57kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan), Jade Jones (Flint); fight day October 18

-67kg: Carla Summerhill (Glasgow); fight day October 16

+67kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool); fight day October 17

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