Jones claims maiden world title in Manchester

Double Olympic champion Jade Jones finally completed her set of major taekwondo titles by claiming World Championship gold for the first time in Manchester.

The 26-year-old from Wales overcame South Korean rival Ah-Reum Lee 14-7 in the final in front of a raucous home crowd to win the title that had previously eluded her.

Jones had already won back-to-back Olympic gold medals at London 2012 and Rio 2016, as well as European, Youth Olympic and multiple Grand Prix golds.

But her previous best at the Taekwondo World Championships was a silver medal on her debut at Gyeongju 2011, before she finished with the bronze medal in Muju in 2017.

Jones had lost to Lee 14-8 in Muju before the South Korean went on to take the title and the pair renewed their rivalry in Manchester after coming through their semi-finals.

And this time, the end result went in Jones’ favour as she raced into an early lead before withstanding a late fightback from Lee to claim the world crown.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” she said. “I have been dying to win this title but it’s the one that has got away so it just feels amazing. It’s always been the one that has got away.

“Sometimes, you have doubts-maybe I am just an Olympic girl, but I have done everything now so I can go to bed and sleep at night now.

“When you have lost the worlds and lost them again, you don’t want it to happen again. There is a little chip on your shoulder. It still wasn’t my best and there is more to come.

“I have always been so lucky with the fans and I think if I lose, they lose with me. That means a lot because it’s not pressure, it’s support.”

Jones’s victory saw her join Bianca Walkden and Bradly Sinden in the world champions’ club after her British teammates took gold in the +73kg and -68kg divisions, respectively.

“It’s a good club to be in,” said Jones. “I am extremely proud of Bradly-an absolute legend. He truly deserves it. Bianca, three-times a world champion, it just makes you want to be better.

“We are constantly pushing each other and it’s amazing when it happens.”

She was not the only Brit celebrating medal success on the fourth day of competition, though, with Aaliyah Powell also toasting taking bronze in the -53kg category.

In what was her first major senior competition, Powell defeated Slovenia’s Ana Petrusic 12-6 in her opening encounter before dispatching Christianna Tyrologou 9-6 in her next match.

Powell then set up a semi-final with a 22-16 victory over Oumaima El Bouchti but her run was eventually ended by Russian Tatiana Kudashova as she finished with bronze.

And after becoming Great Britain’s youngest ever senior world medallist, the 16-year-old said: “My initial aim was to win my first match and everything after that was a bonus.

“But everyone comes here to win. However, if someone had told me I would get to the semi-finals I would have taken that.

“There was no pressure because I am one of the youngest people in the competition. But in my own mind, I know my own ability.”

Meanwhile, Lutalo Muhammad has been withdrawn from the -87kg weight division (Sunday) at the 2019 World Taekwondo Championships on medical grounds.

The 2012 Olympic bronze and Rio 2016 silver medallist said: “I am disappointed I won’t be able to fight in Manchester this weekend.

“I’ve watched my teammates fight and it’s been such a fantastic event for the GB Taekwondo team.

“With Tokyo just over a year away, my focus is on getting fit to compete on the Grand Prix circuit to try and qualify for my third Olympic Games in 2020.”

Sportsbeat 2019