Olympic24: Jones wins maiden European title as Rutherford extends unbeaten run
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Olympic24: Jones wins maiden European title as Rutherford extends unbeaten run

21 May 2016 / 08:52

Jade Jones won her maiden European Taekwondo Championship as Greg Rutherford extended his unbeaten run with a win at the City Games and Adam Peaty set up another chance for gold in London. Here's our rundown of the past 24 hours in Olympic sport:

  • Jones takes maiden European title
  • Rutherford extends winning run with 8.20m leap in Manchester
  • Peaty and Murdoch set up final showdown at European Aquatics Championships
  • Pitchford hoping for second time lucky at Rio
  • Whitlock pulls out of European champs through illness
  • Watson returns to give England 7s a boost

Jones crowned European Taekwondo Champion

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Olympic champion Jade Jones is adamant she is right on track to retain her crown in Rio after winning her first European Taekwondo Championship title in Montreux, Switzerland.

Jones had competed at three previous European Championships and failed to walk away with gold but found success at the fourth time of asking by beating Sweden’s Nikita Glasnovic in the -57kg final.

Jones had made her way through the rounds and a quick start gave her a three-point advantage before a precise head shot early in the second doubled her lead.

The Team GB star never looked back after that to seal an 11-5 victory against one of the best in the world and will now eagerly await the Olympic squad announcement which will be made by GB Taekwondo next month.

But for the time being the 23-year-old – who had won two bronzes and one silver medal at previous European Championships – was just ecstatic to fulfil a long-held dream.

"I'm absolutely over the moon, this is something I've wanted to win for a long time,” said Jones.

“The road to Rio has been harder than it was to London. So, to tick this title off my list before getting there, I feel on top of the world.

"Rio is going to be really hard, but I believe on my day I can win."

Rutherford extends unbeaten run ahead of Olympic Games

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Greg Rutherford soared to victory at the Great CityGames Manchester to extend his unbeaten run to five competitions this season as he bids to retain his Olympic title in Rio.

Rutherford produced a final jump of 8.20m to set a new Games record and triumph in his first competition on British soil since being crowned World champion last year.

The 29-year-old finished more than half a metre ahead of his rivals and just 10cm short of his season’s best, and is confident he can continue his winning form.

“I’ll try to maintain that unbeaten run for the rest of the year,” he said. “I’m very, very happy. To get 8.20m on boards like that is very good.

“One thing I’m trying to maintain is going over eight metres every time. The last time I didn’t was in 2014.

“I had a perfect season last year and want to try and maintain it this year.”

Later on, European champion Tiffany Porter was victorious in the 100m hurdles, clocking a time of 12.89 seconds.

“The championships are the main focus,” said the world indoor 60m bronze medallist. “We’re still in some heavy training so I’m pleased to come away with the win.”

Elsewhere, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey won the men’s 150m in a time of 15.10 seconds.

Peaty and Murdoch set up European showdown

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Great Britain failed to win any medals at the European Aquatics Championships in London on Friday night but Adam Peaty and Ross Murdoch set up a compelling showdown in the 50m breaststroke final after posting the fastest two times in the semi-finals.

World record holder Peaty proved he is still the man to beat in the event by clocking an impressive 26.66 seconds, just 0.04 seconds off his own Championship record, but his main competitor appears to be compatriot Murdoch whose time of 27.25 was faster than every other swimmer.

There will also be two Brits in the women’s 50m backstroke final as reigning European champion Fran Halsall and Georgia Davies both eased through but there was disappointment for Molly Renshaw in the 200m breaststroke final as she narrowly missed out on a medal by coming fourth.

Chloe Tutton also touched in sixth spot in that final while Tim Shuttleworth showed he has an incredibly bright future as the 19-year-old finished fifth in the men’s 800m freestyle.

And after once again being the star of the show in controlling the second semi-final from start to finish, Peaty was understandably delighted.

“I was confident it was going to be a fast time. I’m super stoked with that race though to be honest,” said Peaty.

“You never know with a 50m race, one mistake and it can all be over but it worked out just right for me and Ross tonight.

“I have a couple of hours to train to see what I can do to improve. I’m going to go into it and enjoy the race.”

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Pitchford hoping for second time lucky in Rio

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At the tender age of 19 Liam Pitchford’s once-in-a-lifetime sporting moment, a home Olympic Games, had already been and gone.

He qualified for London 2012 by virtue of Great Britain’s home nation allocation, but with a world ranking of 143 he lost his first game and that was it, his Olympic experience was over for at least four years.

Those four years have now passed and 22-year-old Pitchford has booked his ticket for a second Olympic experience at the Rio Games, in a little over two months’ time.

With his world ranking now at 51 – it has been as high as 39 in April – Pitchford qualified for these Games by his own right and will be joined by fellow Brit, and London 2012 teammate, Paul Drinkhall.

Between London and Rio Pitchford has picked up two silvers and a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, reached the last 32 in singles at the 2015 World Championships and made a breakthrough this year with a bronze at the Team World Championships.

Pitchford’s confidence has been bolstered by those results, he now backs himself on the world stage and said anything is possible ahead of his second Olympic Games.

“In the past four or five major tournaments I have performed well, so I will kind of call myself a big tournament player,” said the man from Chesterfield.

“It feels amazing to be included in the Rio team, after London I told myself I wanted to qualify for Rio by my own right and I did it, I’m over the moon.”

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Whitlock withdraws from Europeans through illness

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Max Whitlock has been forced to withdraw from the Great Britain squad for this month's European Gymnastics Championships due to illness.

The double Olympic bronze medallist had been looking to his three European gold medals in Bern, Switzerland, but has opted to sit the competition out in order to fully recover with the Olympic Games in mind.

Whitlock's place in the squad will be taken up by Courtney Tulloch, with men's head national coach Eddie Van Hood full of confidence that he can make the step up.

"The withdrawal of Max is unfortunate and we will look at some tactical reshuffling of the team order, but it is testament to the depth of the programme that we can call upon Courtney to step up," he said.

"Courtney has great experience and was a rings finalist in the Nanning World Championship in 2014. Max will continue to prepare for Rio."

Newcastle speedster returns for England 7s

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Marcus Watson will make his return to England Sevens duty this weekend and head coach Simon Amor believes having the speedster back on board can only be of benefit.

Watson was a regular for England, having played 26 World Series tournaments and scored over 400 points, but returned to the 15-man code with Premiership outfit Newcastle Falcons last summer.

However, having been included in the GB Sevens training squad ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games later this summer, the flyer is back in the fold for the final leg of this year's World Rugby Sevens Series at Twickenham this weekend.

With the Olympics in mind, Phil Burgess, Tom Mitchell and Dan Norton were all rested for the Paris leg of the series but are have also been selected for their home event.

England face a tough pool as they square off with series leaders Fiji, Australia and Wales but Amor is hoping the tricky schedule can work to his side's advantage.

"There are some great teams in our pool and we are excited about this challenge," said Amor.

"It will bring out the very best in us and the guys are looking forward to wearing the England shirt with pride in front of their home supporters. The atmosphere at Twickenham is always incredible.

"It is great to welcome back Marcus who was a key part of the team coming top four last year and securing Olympic qualification for Team GB. We've enjoyed watching him play so well for Newcastle this year.  

"Results have been tough at times this year as we've rested experienced players to ensure that they are fit and fresh for GB Sevens and Olympic preparations. 

"The benefit is that we have gained depth in the squad as younger players have stepped up.

"England Sevens is in an exciting place heading into next season and we're looking forward to putting in a strong performance this weekend for the supporters."

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