Olympic bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad admits his longer than expected return can prove a blessing in disguise as he prepares for the World Taekwondo Championships at the Spanish Open.
The 21-year-old became Britain’s first ever male Olympic taekwondo medallist at London 2012 last summer with 80kg bronze but has long been denied a first outing since then thanks to injury.
Muhammad had hoped to coincide his first fight since the Games with that of Jade Jones, who lost on her first outing after winning Olympic 57kg gold at the Trelleborg Open, but wasn’t able to.
However Muhammad admits he has returned from his injury lay-off stronger than ever and joins Britain’s 12-strong squad, which includes Jones, at this weekend’s Spanish Open in La Nucia.
Muhammad is the last of Britain’s four London 2012 Olympians to get back in action with fellow Olympic bronze medallist Sarah Stevenson calling time on her competitive career last week.
And, with the World Championships scheduled for July in Mexico and the Spanish Open likely to be the last tournament before then, Muhammad believes his comeback couldn’t be better timed.
“It’s a long time since I have been in the ring, probably longer than I thought after the Games,” said Muhammad, who is stepping up from 80kg to 87kg at the Spanish Open.
“The plan was to get back at the start of 2013, similar to Jade Jones. Unfortunately, I picked up a couple of injuries that needed to be taken care of.
“I have taken time to get them sorted out and I feel better for it; stronger than ever. This is likely to be the last tournament we go to before the worlds.
“And it will be a really tough field because a lot of countries are looking at the Spanish Open in the same way. But I am feeling very positive.
“We’ve had some test matches in Manchester this week and things went well. I feel confident I can put in some good displays and, while it’s not about medals and accolades, I guess I will see where that leads me.
“I have had my 15 minutes after the Olympics. But I am aware the Olympics were 2012 and I am really looking to 2013. The World Championships are the only thing on my mind right now.”
© Sportsbeat 2013