GB Taekwondo athletes launch first post London 2012 Talent ID CampaignSubscribe
UK Sport Talent Team 16 November 2012
FIGHTING CHANCE: BATTLE4BRAZIL
GB Taekwondo Olympic athletes Jade Jones, Lutalo Muhammad and Sarah Stevenson were amongst the elite Taekwondo players who today (16 November) launched the first talent identification programme following the success of London 2012 in the build-up to Rio 2016.
In conjunction with UK Sport and the English Institute of Sport, GB Taekwondo has launched Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil, a nationwide talent identification programme.
The programme is aimed at high achieving 16-26-year-old male and female combat athletes from all kick based martial arts who believe they are capable of transferring to Olympic Taekwondo (WTF style) and making an impact on the medal table in 2016.
The sport has enjoyed an increased profile after the London 2012 Olympic Games with one gold and one bronze medal achieved, which added to the bronze won four years ago in Beijing, but GB Taekwondo and the UK Talent Team remain convinced that there are athletes not currently involved in Olympic Taekwondo (WTF) who are capable of challenging for positions in the national team.
Recent rule changes increasing points scored for kicks to the head will further enhance the opportunity for talent transfer.
GB Taekwondo Performance Director Gary Hall commented on the launch of the programme: “The original Fighting Chance talent identification campaign in 2009 was very successful for athletes to complement the talented juniors we were already developing.”
“The new Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil campaign should help us build on the successes we have had so far and reach wider audiences. The success we achieved in London was incredible but we are not resting on our laurels, there is more talent out there to discover.”
Since 2007, the UK Talent Team has worked in partnership with 20 Olympic and Paralympic sports and over 100 World Class coaches; run seven National athlete recruitment campaigns, and assessed over 7,000 athletes. These projects have resulted in over 100 athletes selected by sports into the World Class system with 293 international appearances made and a total of 102 international medals won.
Twelve identified athletes from the campaigns represented Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, including rower Helen Glover, who was part of the crew which won Team GB’s first gold medal of the Games and Taekwondo player Lutalo Muhammad, who won Olympic bronze.
Ian Yates from the UK Talent Team said: “The London 2012 Games saw great success for British athletes and there was notable impact on the medals won from talent ID athletes who have come through our campaigns including an Olympic gold medal for Rower Helen Glover.
“The talent initiatives have a proven track record in discovering untapped sporting potential and we are now focussing on continuing to impact on British success through to Rio in 2016. It is fantastic that Taekwondo will be involved in our first initiative post London 2012.”
Jade Jones shot to fame this summer by winning Olympic gold in the women’s -57kg Taekwondo. Jones, who is also the current world number one, began taekwondo at a young age and now trains at the GB Taekwondo Olympic headquarters in Manchester. Jade made the switch from ITF Taekwondo five years ago.
The 19-year-old knows exactly what it takes to be the best in the sport and offered some words of encouragement for those wanting to get involved: “I’ve had a lot of feedback since the summer’s Olympic Games that more and more people are looking to get into WTF Taekwondo,” she said.
“It is a fantastic sport and certainly has attributes which appeal to other combat athletes. My experience at London 2012 was incredible and I’m so happy that the sport is receiving more interest but I want to see this grow and continue in the lead up to 2016. Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil is a great programme to help that happen.”
Lutalo Muhammad came through the Talent 2012 Fighting Chance scheme before winning bronze in this year’s Olympic Games and commented on the campaign launch: “It is exciting to see the increase in popularity that Taekwondo has gained since our success this summer. London was an incredible experience for me and I would encourage others who think they could transfer their skills to WTF Taekwondo to apply for Fighting Chance as they too could experience the thrill of an Olympic Games in 2016.”
Sarah Stevenson won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games and became the first ever British athlete to medal in the sport of Taekwondo at an Olympic Games. The 29-year-old from Doncaster said: “The Fighting Chance: Battle4Brazil programme is a fantastic way to bring new talent to our sport. We had great success as a team in London and it would be fantastic to see that grow and develop on the road to Rio.”
The 2009 Fighting Chance campaign saw over 1,000 applicants from a variety of other combat sports, including ITF Taekwondo, kickboxing, karate, muai thai and others.
Damon Sansum was one of those applicants who was successful through the Fighting Chance programme and said: “I come from a kick boxing background but as Taekwondo provides the only chance to represent your country at the Olympics at a kicking martial art, I took part in the Fighting Chance talent programme and was lucky enough to get selected to join the GB Academy in Manchester.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the programme to other martial art athletes, since the rule changes there is a lot more scope to see head kicks and knockouts; there’s no shortage of excitement.”
The application process is online and further information can be found at www.uksport.gov.uk/talent with the application process closing on Monday 14 January 2013.