‘Liver Bird’ Bianca Walkden provided a golden finish to her gruelling Middle East tour with victory at the Bahrain Open, as per GB Taekwondo posted.
After two silver medals in earlier competitions, Walkden made it third time lucky to end her four week road trip on the highest possible note.
With team mates, Mahama Cho and Damon Sansum, also collecting medals, the Bahrain event proved a worhtwhile exercise for the Manchester trained, Great Britain squad.
“It was a crazy trip and towards the end, I just wanted to come home,” said Liverpool born Walkden after beating French rival, Anne-Caroline Graffe 3-0 in the +73 kg final. “But I was desperate not to come home without a gold medal.”
Walkden made her statement of intent in the semi-finals with a 5-4 success over Graffe‘s compatriot, Gwladys Epangue 5-4. That win avenged a golden point final defeat at the Fuijairah Open.
“I was nervous going into the final because I didn’t want to lose again,” she explained. “But this time I had a new game plan and new tactics and they seemed to work.
“Obviously I wanted to get four golds but it is not going to happen every time,” she smiled. “So, I am happy with the gold and two silvers,” added Walkden who had previously fought at the Trelleborg Open in Sweden, Luxor Open in Egypt and the Fuijairah Open in the United Arab Emirates.
“And I didn’t come back with one bruise so I must have done okay.”
Just as importantl for the 22-year-old was a haul of nearly 30 world ranking points. “I’m creeping up slowly,” acknowledged the former world number two.
“This time I will be the one chasing everyone else. I’d love to get back to where I was before my (cruciate knee) injury and then to get to number one.
“Overall, it was a good experience for me and the team. There was a lot of travelling involved and of course it was very hot.
“Then you had to go out and perform. But I think we all did that.”
Walkden, however, returns to training tomorrow (Wednesday) in preparation for the Dutch Open and the European Championships in May. “It’s a busy time but it is all good prep for the Europeans and hopefully for the next World Grand Prix,” she agreed.
Heavyweight Mahama Cho, a bronze medallist at the previous event in Fuijairah, completed his tour of duty with gold in the +87kg division while Damon Sansum finished with silver at -80kg after a 23-14 final defeat to British rival, Aaron Cook.