Taekwondo chief confident for Euro tilt
April 26, 2012 07:23 am
Team GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall is confident his elite fighters can rise to the challenge once again when Manchester hosts the European Championships next weekend.
The likes of world bronze medallist Martin Stamper, German Open winner Damon Sansum, Bianca Walkden and Welsh teenager Jade Jones will all be in action at Sportcity from May 3-6, along with Dutch Open champion Aaron Cook, who has been training outside the GB Academy fold, but returns to the squad to defend his European title.
The selectors must then decide upon their final Olympic party at two pre-nominated weight divisions for both men and women - which could yet include Beijing bronze medalist Sarah Stevenson, who is making steady progress in her recovery from a serious knee injury.
Hall believes the current British squad have what it takes to continue to make an impact at the highest level, having won four medals at the 2011 World Championships in Korea.
"The squad are in good shape, and are really up for it, there is a lot of confidence in the camp. Now the athletes have to go out and perform," Hall told Press Association Sport.
"The Europeans will be a big test because there will be a lot of Olympic fighters there who are also using it as their final performance tournament ahead of the Games.
"We have got some exceptional guys who are looking to put down a marker for their Olympic selection and they have got to put that on the table, which is heightening the pressure a bit. However, the guys who can cope with the pressure out there will come to the top.
"We are in a good position with selection because this time we have choices, where in previous years we had not. That is down to the success of the Academy and the performance programme."
There will be Olympic places at under-67kg and under-57kg for women, with the men's weight at under-68kgs and under-80kgs. One notable absentee from the European Championships will be world gold medalist Stevenson.
Hall said: "Sarah is looking really good, she has not started the heavy combat phase yet, but she is kicking well and moving well. She is coming on physically and is ahead of where we would have expected her to be, and as everybody knows, she is a determined lady."
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