Lutalo Muhammad is confident he can dominate the world scene for the foreseeable future following victory in the men’s -80kg at the inaugural World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester.
The Olympic bronze medallist took the title with a golden point victory over Russia’s Albert Gaun after having a last-second head kick overturned on review as the pair drew 1-1 after three rounds.
After a disappointing World Championships in July, in which he failed to pick up a medal, he gave himself a chance of victory with wins over Turkish pair Ridvan Baygut, a former European champion, and Yunus Sari
And triumphing in front of a home crowd was extra special for Muhammad, who was adamant that there was more to come.
“It’s no secret I was disappointed at the World Championships, it didn’t go my way,” the 22-year-old said.
“I think I proved I can be at the top of the world, I feel this is where I belong and I plan to stay here for a long time.”
However. the majority of fans inside the GMEX were disappointed not to see him face off against the Isle of Man’s Aaron Cook, who was eliminated by Gaun in the semi-finals.
Muhammad was controversially selected ahead of Cook for last year's Olympics and the pair have yet to go head-to-head - though Muhammad insists it's only a matter of time before he and 'Mr Cook' clash.
“We fight so often at the moment, especially with this Grand Prix series, we have four next year alone so I’m sure me and Mr. Cook will meet again,” he said.
“There’ll be fireworks when we do meet, it just wasn’t meant to happen here”
Cook was left visibly devastated after his sudden death clash with Gaun, with the Russian on this occasion emerging victorious.
His path to the last four had included beating five time world champion and double Olympic gold medallist Steven Lopez, but despite some impressive performances, was unsatisfied with his efforts.
“There will be many more opportunities I’m just gutted, it’s in Manchester, my family is here, everybody is here,” he said.
“I train in a shed in my back garden and I’ve tried my best with some of the best in world and just come up short. I’m not happy with bronze.”
Earlier, Great Britain's Andrew Deer caused a huge early shock by beating world champion Tahir Guelec 17-8 in first round before being eliminated 7-3 by Lopez.
Elsewhere, home hope Dominic Brookes was left ruing a costly error as he was beaten in the men’s -58kg quarter-finals with a golden point from world silver-medallist Hadi Mostean Loron.
The 24-year-old, who had beat world champion Cha Tae-moon in the second round, surrendered a two point lead as the fight finished four apiece at the end of the three rounds.
“He got a sneaky point that I didn’t notice and I was trying to keep it safe,” he said.
“I thought: if I can get out of the ring and avoid a headshot [I will win] but when I glanced over to the scoreboard it was not 4-2 it was 4-3 and he made it four all. It was a stupid mistake on my part.”
Chinese Taipei’s Wei Chen-Yang recorded a 6-5 victory over Kim Tae-hun of Korea to win the division.
Wei’s compatriot Chuang Chia Chia could not score a second gold the country as she lost 9-2 to Swede Elin Johansson in the women’s 67kg category.
There was disappointment for Britain’s Maria Reynolds on her international debut as she failed to make it past round one as she lost 13-0 to American Paige McPherson.
© Sportsbeat 2013