Fighting Chance graduate Ruebyn Richards achieved the best result of his career at the prestigious Croatian Open in Zagreb.
The Nottingham born player just missed out on gold in the Olympic selected -80kg weight division, suffering a 6-5 defeat by experienced Greek, Nikolas Tzellos in the final.
But it was Richards' quarter-final success over world number one, Ramin Azimov, of Azerbaijan that showed his world class potential. Azimov, a world bronze medallist, has already earned his place at next year's Olympics, having won the qualification tournament.
GB Performance Director, Gary Hall, said: "It was a phenomenal performance by Ruebyn who has achieved something over Azimov that no other British player has done.
"We have an exciting crop of talent coming through in the Academy at just at the right time, as this weekend’s results show, and there are no foregone conclusions when it comes to selection for the Games.
“It also highlights the work that our Academy is doing in developing talent and delivering world class performances as we reach this crucial stage in the build up to London 2012.”
In 2009, Richards was among over 1,000 participants who applied for the ‘Fighting Chance’ initiative, developed by Sport Taekwondo UK in partnership with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport. The programme aimed to harness transferable talents from athletes in other martial arts, who had not had the opportunity to compete in the Olympic code of the sport, with the potential to reach the podium in 2012 and at future Games.
Having competed in ITF Taekwondo since the age of four, Richards transferred to the Olympic recognised WTF version, and now trains full time with GB Taekwondo’s elite squad in Manchester.
Natalie Dunman, Lead Talent Identification Scientist with the UK Talent Team, said: “Since graduating from Fighting Chance, Ruebyn has clearly gone from strength to strength, and his recent success at the Croatian Open highlights his huge potential.
“Transferring athletes in from other sports and disciplines and developing them in relatively short time frames is a huge challenge, and this result is a testament to GB Taekwondo’s hard work. As important as identifying the talent is, the environment that they are immersed into to accelerate their development is essential.”
“Ruebyn’s success, as well as the success of our other graduates, reaffirms the effectiveness of the talent transfer system, and I hope this continues as we move towards 2012 and beyond.”