Hall applauds “phenomenal” performances of Team GB’s Olympic taekwondo stars and backs fight strategy
Performance director Gary Hall says GB Taekwondo fighters won’t take a backward step in pursuit of the sport’s future top prizes. The five-strong Manchester trained squad captured three medals at Tokyo 2020: silvers for Bradly Sinden and Lauren Williams and bronze for triple world champion, Bianca Walkden.
That total matched GB’s Rio 2016 tally and was one better than London 2012 where Jade Jones and Lutalo Muhammad claimed gold and bronze.
Only the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) squad topped GB’s three medals at Tokyo 2020, winning four to head the table. GB finished runners-up, ahead of the formidable South Korean team, with a 60 percent conversion rate of athletes to medals.
But a nation watched in anguish as Sinden (-68kg), Williams (-67kg) and Walkden (+67kg) saw higher colour metal snatched from their grasp in the closing seconds of their final rounds. New, enthralled followers of the explosive martial art suggested a more defensive approach as the clock ticked down would have yielded greater reward. However, Hall backed his athletes and their game plans in pursuit of gold. And he said the near misses shouldn’t take away from the “phenomenal performances” of his five-strong squad.
“We have a DNA in our fight game and our fight game is to win,” said Hall. “That’s fight at all costs, die trying and give everything you can…………“When it comes to those close moments we don’t try and close it off and defend. “Having looked at the statistics we don’t believe it is the right way.
“The guys know it is their choice. The coach will give them advice but in the last 10 seconds when you are in computer mode they make that choice. “We respect that choice and we back every single choice the athlete makes. “Sometimes, it wins us three golds like it did at the World Championships in 2019. “On another day they would have made that same choice and it would have worked for them. “We are a fight sport and you have got to take risks at crucial times. “I massively endorse that strategy because it is the way the rules are going. “They do reward the offensive player. We are a fight sport and you have got to take risks at crucial times.”
Hall believes a lack of high intensity competition during the coronavirus pandemic was a key factor in his fighters’ narrow defeats. “Even though we have had competitions of a level to go to we didn’t get enough of that. “We have a brilliant talent cohort but if you haven’t been into battle for 18 months, at this kind of level, it can have an impact.
“And I wouldn’t like to take anything away from the phenomenal performances all five of them gave with their own individual circumstances. “We all came here saying we win together, we lose together and support each other. “It has been a hard 18 months but to come to an Olympic Games and do what we did is incredibly good. I immensely proud of what they have achieved.”
Adding to Gary’s comments, Ian Leafe, CEO of British Taekwondo said: I’m sure the entire country, the BT board and our members, would like to say a huge thank you to GB Taekwondo, Gary Hall and the entire team for the years of hard work, and magnificent performance in Tokyo, and wish our Para team success in a few weeks time.