There was no wiping the smile off Mahama Cho’s face as he secured Team GB a fourth taekwondo quota spot at this summer’s Olympic Games.
But after winning the European qualification tournament in Turkey, the men’s heavyweight fighter insisted the hard work was only just beginning.
Cho took to the mat in Istanbul on Sunday knowing that an added quota place was on offer for Team GB if he was to reach the final of the +80kg weight division.
And the 26-year-old made sure to achieve that target in style, beating Italy’s reigning Olympic gold medallist Carlo Molfetta in the semi-final before then rounding off a triumphant day with a 4-2 win against reigning European champion Arman Marshall-Silla of Belarus to take gold.
London 2012 gold medallist, Jade Jones, World Champion, Bianca Walkden, and Lutalo Muhammad, a winner at last month’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix final series in Mexico, had already secured qualification for the -57kg, +67kg and -80kg weight categories.
And while Cho must wait to discover if he will be Team GB’s +80kg nomination for Rio 2016, the Brit was delighted to repay the faith shown in him in Turkey.
“It feels absolutely fantastic-now the real work starts,” said Cho. “But I’ve received so many messages and I’m overwhelmed with how much support I have had.
“It’s a blessing to have so many people behind me and that will make all of the difference when it comes to the Olympic Games in Rio.
“I was calm and composed and had a good game plan. Each fight was important, each round was important but I controlled the fights from start to finish.
“It just goes to show that if you put your mind and heart towards something anything is possible. I’m really happy and I’m grateful to God for the blessings that he has given me.
“I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster since last year and the support and belief from the coaches at GB Taekwondo has been fantastic.
“But the season’s only just begun. We’ve got the Dutch and German Opens which are just around the corner so I need to get back in the gym and re-focus.”
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