Bianca Walkden booed on her way to World Taekwondo Championships gold
Bradly Sinden beat Javier Polo Perez of Spain to win the men’s -68kg title.
Bianca Walkden was booed to her historic third world title and Bradly Sinden was crowned Britain’s first men’s gold medallist on a controversial night at the World Taekwondo Championships in Manchester.
Walkden claimed her third consecutive gold when her opponent, China’s Zheng Shuyin, was disqualified midway through the final round for repeated infringements despite holding a 10-point lead at the time.
The 27-year-old Walkden then found herself in the unlikely position of celebrating her title amid loud boos, while Zheng – who had denied Walkden a place in the Olympic final in Rio – collapsed in the centre of the mat.
And despite the negative response which continued on the podium where Zheng again had to be helped to her feet by UK Sport chair Katherine Grainger, a defiant Walkden – the first Briton to win three world crowns – insisted she would do it all again.
A clearly emotional Walkden said: “I went out there needing to find a different way to win and a win is a win if you disqualify someone – it’s not my fault.
The Chinese delegation reacted furiously in front of the taekwondo officials but could do little to prevent a manner of victory which is clearly accepted – and not even especially rare – within the sport’s code.
Walkden’s travails made Sinden’s success seem like a cakewalk as he came from behind at the end of the first round to defeat Javier Polo Perez of Spain and win the men’s -68kg title.
His victory, having defeated former world champion Lee Dae-hoon in Thursday’s semi-final, saw him follow in the footsteps of his hometown inspiration, the former double world champion and Olympic medallist Sarah Stevenson.
Sinden said: “I was brought up in an area that was a bit rough and having people like that shows you that you can do what you want if you put your mind to it.
“A lot of this has come from her. Not just for me but the funding that came with her winning the world title and that first Olympic medal.
Jade Jones remained on course for her first world title after beating Canada’s Skylar Park 18-12 to book her place in Saturday’s women’s -57kg final.
Jones, who has won silver and bronze medals in previous World Championships, admitted she was forced to work harder than she had hoped in order to secure victory.
“I don’t particularly feel any more pressure because I haven’t won it before or because it’s a home crowd. There’s always pressure on me and it’s just that sometimes you’re not ‘on it’ as much as others.”
And Jones paid tribute to the achievement of her friend and team-mate Walkden , adding: “Bianca trains so hard in the gym and she deserves that gold, and she deserves to be ranked among the real greats of the sport.”
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