Euros warm-up for leading Brits

16 March 2012 / 13:19

Team GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall is expecting his elite fighters to make another statement on the road towards London 2012 when they compete at the Dutch Open this weekend.

The likes of Martin Stamper, German Open winner Damon Sansum, Jordan Gayle, Tony Grisman and Bianca Walkden will lead an 11-strong group in Eindhoven as the athletes fine tune preparations for May's European Championships in Manchester ahead of final selection for the London 2012 Olympic squad.

Hall, whose elite group delivered four medals from the 2011 World Championships, is expecting to see continued improvement as focus narrows on the summer's showpiece event.

"Eindhoven will provide another world class field, but there is great confidence in the camp," said Hall, who will eventually chose four fighters to compete in the Games, at two pre-selected weight divisions for both men and women.

"They know its all to play for with selection for the Europeans taking place, and with that in mind there has been some strategic selections. Jordan (Gayle) and Tony (Grisman) realise it's going to be tough to get selected at under-68kg for the Europeans so they want to make a statement to get selected for the other two categories."

Liverpool fighter Stamper, a world bronze medalist last year, will be out to make up for a disappointing early exit at the German Open and said: "Perhaps I got my game plan wrong. This time I want to try and boss people more. I intend fighting how I have done in the past and to be more positive."

Welsh fighter Jade Jones, silver medalist at the world championships, will miss the Holland trip as she rests a minor injury, while Sarah Stevenson - a bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2011 world champion - continues her recovery. British Open gold medalist Walkden, potentially Stevenson's understudy for the London team, has dropped down to fight in the under-67kgs.

Hall added: "Bianca was always going to be looking at a -67kg event should she be required to be called into the Olympic breach. So, she is very much being prepared, as was always the plan, to be available for Olympic selection if it goes her way."

Hall moved to allay fears over the fitness of Wales teenager Jones.

He said: "Jade is a precaution rather than a problem. She has medalled consistently for 18 months now and doesn't really need to prove anything. Jade will be full on by the time of the Europeans and then, if she gets the nod, on to the Olympic Games."

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