Home advantage certainly seemed to be in full effect as Lauren Williams spearheaded a trio of British medals on the opening night of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in London.
The 18-year-old produced a brilliant display to win gold in the women’s -67kg division at the Copper Box Arena, while Bradly Sinden clinched silver in the men’s -68kg class and Mahama Cho rounded out the medals with bronze at +80kg.
Williams delighted the home crowd as she moved through the rounds – which included a golden point, quarter-final triumph over reigning world champion and double Olympic medallist Nur Tatar – before comfortably beating Ruth Gbabgi 43-23 in a one-sided final.
And after dispatching her Ivorian rival, the teenager could hardly comprehend the magnitude of her achievement.
“That means so much to me because it is such a big competition,” said Williams. “I beat some top girls along the way and I am lost for words to be honest.
“I was on it all day and that’s the first time, I think, I have enjoyed a competition. What worked for me was I didn’t put any of the other girls above me.
“I just focussed on my own game plan and it worked.”
Sinden had beaten two-time world champion Joel Gonzalez Bonilla en route to the final, where he faced Olympic champion Ahmad Abughaush of Jordan.
Having led 5-3, the Brit was eventually forced to a golden point and his opponent prevailed by the narrowest of margins, leaving him to consider what might have been
“The gold could have been mine but for the last few seconds,” mused Sinden.
“However, it’s all a learning curve and I know I produced some really good performances.”
Meanwhile, heavyweight Cho reached the semi-finals but ultimately fell to an 8-5 defeat at the hands of giant Russian Rafail Aiukaev, despite leading going into the final 30 seconds.
“Towards the end I wanted to contain him and try to make him make a mistake,” said Cho. “But he did it better than I did.
“It was always going to be tough against a very tall opponent. It would have been great to come away with a gold medal especially with my family watching.
“But to get another medal which is a positive. And I’ll be ready for the Grand Prix final in Ivory Coast later this year.”