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Tokyo Olympics: Bianca Walkden recovers to win taekwondo bronze after agonising defeat in semi-final

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

What is about British Taekwondo and heartbreak? For a third successive night, the team experienced agony just when they looked destined for ecstasy.

This time it was Bianca Walkden - ‘Queen B’ as she is known - on the receiving end of the cruellest of defeats, perhaps the most agonising of all.

Leading with just two seconds remaining in her semi-final against Lee Da-bin, she took a blow to the head and, with it, disappeared her chance of winning the gold she had been predicted going into Tokyo.

The world champion, a bronze medallist at the last Games in Rio de Janeiro, was seen as the class act of the draw, much as her flatmate Jade Jones had been two days previously.

And, in a tight semi-final, Walkden held a two-point advantage with just those two seconds remaining, courtesy of an infraction by her rival. But, undeterred, her South Korean opponent landed a last-ditch head kick to seal a dramatic 25-24 victory.

Walkden had admittedly been on the back foot for much of the semi-final, repeatedly penalised and struggling to gain the ascendancy. But she became more aggressive as the tie drew on, which was rewarded with a late lead before being caught out by the latest of errors by her.

She fought back from the disappointment to beat Pole Aleksandra Kowalczuk in the bronze-medal match, but it was the gold medal she wanted.

Bradly Sinden had previously rued mistakes made in his final, twice allowing his Uzbeki opponent Ulugbek Rashitov back into a contest he felt he should have already wrapped up to end up with silver rather than gold.

It followed two-time Olympic gold medallist Jones crashing out in the opening round, while last night Lauren Williams rued her own missed opportunity when she let a three-point lead slip in the last 10 seconds against Croatia’s Matea Jelic.

Also in action for Britain in the taekwondo today was London fighter Mahama Cho.

But the 31-year-old from Stockwell came unstuck in a cagey 7-4 loss to China’s Sun Hongyi, and hopes of potentially coming through the repechage were denied when Sun lost in his subsequent quarter-final.

After his exit, Cho said: “This is the best of the best, you come in and have to fight the best. He had a better strategy than me and it worked. This is a bitter-sweet sport and you need to accept that for what it is. I need to take it on the chin.”

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