Bianca Walkden admitted she was struggling to get to grips with the size of her achievement as she became Briton’s first world taekwondo gold medallist since 2011 with victory in Russia.
The 23-year-old Liverpudlian heavyweight defeated veteran Gwladys Epangue 4-2 in the +73kg final on Saturday to follow in the footsteps of +67kg champion Sarah Stevenson four years ago.
However it took until the dying seconds for the contest to be decided with France’s Epangue seemingly looking like taking the title with a 2-0 lead – Walkden having had an appeal for a face shot rejected.
But the British fighter, who won European +73kg gold last year, kept her composure to whip in a three point head shot followed by the award of a penalty point to complete a sensational comeback against the double world and triple European champion.
"I’m the new heavyweight champion of the world and honestly, I’m so happy," said Walkden, who has overcome two series knee injuries in the past four years.
"It’s unbelievable. To have had my knee troubles and to come back like this, it is such an emotional win.
"It just shows it’s all about your head and your heart as well.
“I thought I’d pulled it back with a head shot close to the end but it wasn’t given. At that point I really thought I’d lost it with time running out for me. But I gave it one last go and went high again and I got her.
"Now, I’m standing here with a gold medal round my neck. Unbelievable.
"I really want to thank everyone, my coach and the team who have supported me and got me back fighting and winning. To come back and to be world champion is mind blowing.”
Elsewhere in Chelyabinsk, Jade Slavin fell at the second round stage to Mexico’s Maria Espinoza while heavyweight Mahama Cho, a World Grand Prix champion in 2013, also suffered an early exit at the same stage to Ivory Coast’s Firmin Zokou 7-6.
Tomorrow sees Olympic champion Jade Jones bid for success in the -57kg category while Jordan Gayle goes in the men’s -63kg competition.
© Sportsbeat 2015