Walkden thanks Manchester crowd after Grand Prix silver

The ferocious home crowd proved a spurring factor for Bianca Walkden despite narrowly missing out on heavyweight gold at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix.

Walden lost out to Olympic champion Shuyin Zheng in a paper-thin 6-4 contest yet won the adoration of the Manchester crowd as she claimed the silver medal.

Now it’s all eyes on Tokyo for the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist.

Walkden is nothing if not a fighter and is already planning her next move, keen to avenge the defeat exactly when it counts over the next few years.

“When the crowd get behind you, you want to lift yourself up for them.” she said.

“They’ve come here to pay and watch us fight. I just want to say thank you to everyone – I’m going off to take a picture with everyone now.

“I lost to her in the Rio Olympics, but I fought her in the last Grand Prix and actually beat her then, so every time it’s one for one. I’ll take her when it matters in Tokyo.

“If I want to be the best of the best I have got to fight the best of the best so bring it on.

“Hopefully next year I can turn this silver into gold at the World Championships in Manchester.

“That’s my ultimate goal is to retain my world title and go on to Tokyo in 2020 and become Olympic champion.”

In the same category, Scottish youngster Rebecca McGowan claimed a prestige first-round victory over former Olympic and World champion Milica Mandic.

McGowan found the courage to tame the Serbian star, who had previously won gold at the London 2012 Olympics, and the 2017 World Championships in South Korea.

The 18-year-old missed out in the next round but with a career-high victory on her card, the self-assuredness is only heading in one direction.

“Beating Mandic gave me a confidence boost,” she said.

“But I try to treat every opponent differently, forget the previous match and focus on the next one.”

“I could have started it a lot stronger than I did in the next match.

“I took a bit too much pressure at the beginning and I was chasing the whole match.”

Earlier, fellow Brit Hassan Haider narrowly missed out on a place in the second round of the men’s -58kg.

The 20-year-old led until late on against Ukraine’s Taras Malchenko, eventually succumbing to a narrow 18-17 defeat.

In the first action of the day, Jordyn Smith and Maddison Moore bowed out in the first round of the -49kg category.

Smith lost 9-3 to South Korea’s Jae-young Sim, whereas Moore pushed Xueqin Tan of China close, finishing the match with a 17-14 defeat. Sportsbeat 2018