Golden girls: Grand Prix titles for Walkden and Jones

Golden girls: Grand Prix titles for Walkden and Jones

21 October 2017 / 21:03

Few had expected the little-known Jade Jones to stand on the podium at London 2012, let alone take gold.

But five years on, with two Olympic gold medals and five World Taekwondo Grand Prix titles now in her armoury, it would feel very odd to see her anywhere else.

And with Bianca Walkden joining her atop the podium - winning her fourth straight title in the process - she is far from alone in bossing it for the Brits either.

Not since becoming the first Briton to win a gold medal in the sport had Jones felt the expectations of the familiar London mats but in one, majestic day in the Copper Box, everything felt like home once again.

“The way I am built I want to get gold all the time,” said the -57kg star. “So, it is hard when you get silver and you are used to getting gold.

“When you get silver it’s like “Oh what’s happened to Jade? It is difficult but I came back with a vengeance.

“So, to win in London and beat the girl who knocked me out of the World Championship is sweet.

“I felt I was getting back to my normal self. I was confident as the rounds were going on.

“It felt amazing to feel like me again. Every time I came out to fight the crowd was just ridiculously noisy.

“Seeing my family and friends all willing me on made me think ‘I can’t lose.'”

In supreme form throughout Saturday, Jones' 31-14 victory against Lee Ah-Reum of South Korea victory was swiftly followed by double world champion Walkden securing her fourth major in succession, defeating Aleksandra Kowalczuk 20-7 in the +67kg final.

Those golden moments, coupled with victory for fellow Briton Lauren Williams on Friday and silver and bronze for Bradly Sinden and Mahama Cho equates to a record haul for Great Britain in a single World Taekwondo Grand Prix.

But beyond that, it speaks volumes for just how far the team has come since that first Olympic success in 2012.

For Walkden, that means expectation sits on her shoulders whenever she takes to the mat, knowing she is the one with a target on her back come competition.

"I had such a tough day mentally,” she admitted.

“I had a break down just before the final because I thought I wasn’t doing enough.

“But I had to dig in and give everything I have got. I didn’t want to be remembered for not trying. I wanted to die trying and it paid off."

Earlier in the day, Jade Slavin put up a valiant effort against reigning Olympic champion Shuyin Zheng, but was defeated 10-7.

And Hassan Haider lost 21-13 to Sergio Suzuki in a preliminary match while Max Cater bowed out in the first round, eliminated by Stanislav Denisov.

Sportsbeat 2017

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