No image available


Great Britain picked up four medals, including gold for Liverpool’s Bianca Walkden at the French International Open tonight and further underlined their potential going into what is a World Championship year in 2011. The Paris event, one of only a few on the international circuit which replicates the weight categories of the Olympic Games, provided the British team with a solid platform as they build towards Korea next May and then on to London in 2012.

British Open champion Bianca Walkden added to the French title to her recent Manchester success and her Combat Games win earlier this year when beating her rival and local favourite Anne Caroline Graffe (France) 6-0 in a one sided +67kg final. Walkden, who has risen to no. 2 in the world this year, gave a confident display as she progressed smoothly through each round and it seemed that a victory in Paris was never in doubt. She said “That’s three down and one to go. To win in Paris after getting gold in Beijing and again at the British is fantastic and I now want to finish the year in style by winning in Moscow next month.”
World no. 1 Aaron Cook (Dorset) took a silver medal when falling just short against Ramin Azizov of Azerbaijan, going down 6-9 in the -80kg Final. Cook, not long back in training after his recent British Open success, was visibly disappointed but delivered a number of strong performances during the course of the event and should go into the New Year in confident mood.
Mahama Cho (London) also picked up silver and though he failed to retain his +80kg title, eventually losing 2-6 against Ali Sari of Turkey, he will take heart from a storming run to the final that also saw him beat team-mate Damon Sansum in the semis. Cho was happy with his overall performance and said: “The target was to retain the title but sometimes you’ve got to lose to learn and hopefully next time I’ll do a better job. It was fun taking on Damon in the semi final and I’m sure he’ll be gunning for me when we next meet.”
Damon Sansum (Wales) collected his first senior medal and in doing so, underlined the success of
the GB Talent programme. Sansum, a former kick-boxing world champion who graduated from the Fighting Chance programme earlier this year, was delighted by his run to the semi-final where he eventually fell to team-mate Cho. He said: “It’s a big achievement to get a medal after only around 6 months with the Team. I wanted to do this and didn’t know how realistic it would be to medal but I pulled it out of the bag.”
 Jade Jones (Flint) battled through to the quarter finals before meeting her match in the experienced Croat, Martina Zubcic. In a fast-paced and high scoring match, Jones put up a sterling effort in going down 15 – 20 and proved that she can more than look after herself in senior company.

Gary Hall, Sport Taekwondo UK’s Performance Director said: “Overall I’m delighted with the team’s performance and the progress that is being made, as demonstrated both in Manchester and again here in Paris. Bianca’s win shows how confident she is after success earlier in the year and I’m particularly pleased for Damon and the Talent squad. We showed ambition in launching the Fighting Chance programme earlier this year and that decision has been vindicated by the performances here this weekend. Damon especially hasn’t had long to make the transition from kick-boxing to top class taekwondo but has real potential and we’re all proud of his achievement.”