Grand Slam gold for Walkden and Williams in China

Bianca Walkden and Lauren Williams finished the year on top of the world as the British duo both claimed gold at the World Taekwondo Grand Slam finals in China.

Liverpool’s Walkden, a bronze medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, retained her heavyweight title by defeating American Madelynn Gorman-Shore in the +67kg final.

Williams also triumphed in her -67kg final to win her first Grand Slam gold, while double Olympic champion Jade Jones bagged silver in the showpiece of the -57kg division.

The victory for 27-year-old Walkden means she pockets more than £50,000 in Wuxi and the two-time world champion admitted it was the perfect finale to her 2018.

“I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “I wanted to finish the year off with a gold medal and I’m happy I did it. She gave me a good fight but deep down I was hungry to win.”

Welsh star Williams also scooped more than £50,000 for her win as the two-time European champion overcame Turkey’s Nur Tatar Askari to take the top prize.

And after outclassing the reigning world champion and double Olympic medallist, Williams could not hide her delight at pulling off a stunning victory in her final contest of the year.

“I wanted this so badly,” said the two-time world junior champion. “No one but my family and friends knew how much I wanted it.

“I’ve done it for them all back home and I feel on top of the world. There was no stopping me getting that gold. So, I went out there and stuck to my plan perfectly and I managed to pull it off.”

Jones’s bid to make it a hat-trick of gold medals for GB Taekwondo fell just short as she lost her -57kg final to China’s Lijun Zhou, having beaten Croatia’s Marija Stetic in the last four.

While Zhou avenged her Manchester World Grand Prix final defeat to the world number one back in October, Jones still came away with £16,000 for her efforts in China.

Yorkshire’s Bradly Sinden was the only British men’s finalist and the 2017 World Championship bronze medallist lost to home fighter Shuai Zhao in the -68kg category.

Elsewhere, Rebecca McGowan, who beat reigning Olympic champion Zheng Shuyin to reach the semi-finals, missed out on +67kg bronze after losing to Poland’s Aleksandra Kowalczuk.

Sportsbeat 2018