Olympic champion Jade Jones says she is back in love with taekwondo after claiming silver in the women’s -57 kg event at the inaugural World Grand Prix event in Manchester.
On her return from a back injury the 20-year-old was defeated 4-2 in the final by Spaniard Eva Calvo Gomez.
But the Welsh fighter admitted she had lost some of her hunger for the sport after her quarter-final exit at the World Championships in July and despite missing out on gold, Jones confirmed her passion for the sport was back.
“I’ve already fallen back in love,” said Jones.
“I’m enjoying my taekwondo again and I’m buzzing in training and bouncing out of bed to go to training like I used to.
“I was chuffed to be here and chuffed to be fighting in the Grand Prix and I just really enjoyed myself.”
Nevertheless Jones was slightly frustrated at the outcome of the final as a head shot she landed in the third round was overturned on appeal, but she was quick to acknowledge her opponent’s performance.
“She’s a really awkward long-legged fighter so she doesn’t leave many gaps to get in there,” Jones added.
It was the first time Jones had competed in front of a British crowd since she famously won gold at London 2012 and she paid tribute to the Manchester support.
“The crowd was absolutely amazing and it gives you goose pimples coming out,” she said.
“For that to be a taekwondo crowd as well is crazy and for it to not be an Olympics just shows how the sport is getting bigger.”
En route to the final Jones edged past China’s Hou Yuzhuo in the semi-final after landing a crucial head-kick in the third round with the scoring level at 1-1.
She survived a late onslaught to win 4-3 and book a place in the final against Calvo Gomez who defeated Floriane Liborio in the other semi-final.
Jones had earlier defeated Mexican Jessica Renne Chavez Rivera 10-1 in round one to set up an all-British last 16 encounter with Caroline Fisher, which she won convincingly 15-2.
While another comfortable victory 10-2 over Hedaya Ahmed Malak Wahba of Egypt saw Jones advance into the semi-finals.
Elsewhere, after the resounding success of Mahama Cho and Lutalo Muhammad on Friday and Saturday, Sunday proved to be a day of disappointment for the British male competitors in the -68kg division, as Michael Harvey, Martin Stamper and Jordan Gayle all fell at the first hurdle.
Harvey was left particularly aggrieved after he was eliminated by a superiority vote from the judges after his bout with Russian Vasily Nikitin finished scoreless.
“I’m not happy with some of the decisions,” he said.
Stamper was much more philosophical after his heavy 12-2 defeat to South Korean Kim Hun, making an early New Year’s resolution in the process.
“I’m disappointed (but) I’ll come back stronger in 2014,” Stamper said.
There was yet more disappointment for the home fans when Gayle was eliminated in sudden death 10-9 by Canadian Maxime Potvin, who eventually lost in the final to Russian Alexey Denisenko.
Over the three-day Grand Prix, Great Britain, Russia and Spain recorded two wins each with Sweden and Chinese Taipei also winning one event.
© Sportsbeat 2013