The Great Britain taekwondo team have returned from the 35th Dutch Open in the Netherlands with a stunning medals. Their successes, which included a gold medal for Beijing hopeful Sarah Stevenson, is an increase of a gold and silver medal compared to last year results when Britain colleted six medals at this same event.
Stevenson (All Stars Taekwondo Club, Doncaster) beat Nina Solheim of Norway in the final of the -72kg category to clinch gold, her gold was one of three medals which came from female British athletes competing at the event. Louise Mair (Elgin Taekwondo Club, Scotland) also took gold having overcome a tough Iranian opponent in an enthralling semi-final. Louise’s final opponent withdrew from the final due to injury. Finally, Bianca Walkden (Elite Taekwondo Club, Liverpool) also won a junior gold in the +68kg weight category completing an exciting weekend for the female squad members.
Stevenson commented: “This is the second year in a row the team has performed exceptionally at the Dutch Open and I was especially happy to see Louise and Bianca leading the way by also taking gold medals within their weight categories.” Stevenson, whose achievements helped the British female team finish second in the overall medal table, added: “To finish second overall is an amazing achievement especially when you consider that the winners Germany fielded a total of 46 squad members where as we had a squad of 16 including 5 female members. Had both Farren and Stella (the two female members who did not medal) not been unfortunate with picking up injures in their matches we could have easily topped the table and I just hope that we can all carry this momentum forwards to the European Championships in April.”
Gary Hall, Performance Director for Great Britain, said afterwards: “This is the perfect start for the team as they enter what will be a crucial 2008. It is particularly nice to see Louise Mair winning a gold which is a tremendous achievement to bounce back so quickly from the disappointment of not qualifying for Beijing last month. With the team in its current form I am hugely positive about the progress we have made and the potential to make an impact at the European Championships, which take place in April. Although Beijing is the primary focus we must take each tournament as it comes and next on the agenda is the German Open in two weekends time, an event where I hope to see the same levels of effort from the team.”
photo Dan Vernon
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photo Dan Vernon