Taekwondo: Team GB's Lutalo Muhammad focused on Rio gold


Olympic taekwondo bronze medallist Lutalo Muhammad intends to leave no doubts over why he should be leading Team GB's charge for gold at Rio 2016.

Muhammad, 21, found himself at the centre of a media storm earlier this summer after he was controversially selected for the under-80kgs slot ahead of world number one Aaron Cook.

The Londoner, however, could not make it past the quarter-finals where he was beaten by Nicolas Garcia Hemme.

Because the Spaniard went on to reach the final, finishing with silver, Muhammad was handed a second chance through the repechage competition, which he seized with victory over Iran's Yousef Karami, bronze medallist at the 2004 Athens Olympics and world champion last year at under-87kgs, before then beating Arman Yeremyan of Armenia as South Arena 1 exploded in a sea of Union Flags.

Muhammad only joined the elite GB Taekwondo Academy in Manchester last summer, and earlier this year won the under-87kgs European Championships title.

Over the next Olympics cycle, the Walthamstow fighter intends to make himself the man to beat.

"Although it is not the colour I wanted, it is still an Olympic medal and we have the World Championships next year, when hopefully I can pull off some more good performances," Muhammad told Press Association Sport.

"I really want to keep the momentum going so I can go into Rio and make sure there is no doubt this time - then I can be talking to you with an Olympic gold medal around my neck."

Muhammad added: "I took great confidence from the fact I was selected this time around. It was a tough ordeal, but hopefully that is all behind us now.

"I would love to go to Rio, so my focus now is putting in good performances over the next four years, so I can go two better next time."

Muhammad was trained by his father Wayne at the family's taekwondo school in Walthamstow, east London - just a few miles from where the 21-year-old won his Olympic medal.

"I have only managed to speak to him on the phone - I think he is still somewhere on the moon. He is really happy and proud to me. I am looking forward to seeing him later on," he said.

"The journey towards these Games was character building, and it took a lot of mental strength.

"My family was very supportive of me from the start, and I am happy I have a medal around my neck which in a way is a reward for all of us."

While much has been made of the fact GB Taekwondo overlooked a fighter ranked at the head of his division by the World Taekwondo Federation, results at ExCeL showed that is not necessarily a benchmark for gold - with Wales teenager Jade Jones having dispatched both top seeds Tseng Li Cheng and Hou Yuzhuo en route to her triumph in the under-57kgs.

"The way world rankings work in taekwondo, it can really depend on the amounts of tournaments you go to," said Muhammad.

"Here, we have had some of the top players in the world - like Ramin Azizov from Azerbaijan in our category - going out without a medal.

"It goes to show it does not necessarily mean because someone is ranked higher than one fighter, he is better.

"Unfortunately that is always going to be the public perception, but maybe these Olympics can help change that a bit."

GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall maintained the door would always be open for Cook, who last year left the elite training programme, to compete within the international squad.

"Aaron is a very talented fighter, and there are a number of very talented fighters coming up through the system," he said.

"It is our job at GB Taekwondo to work with any talented athlete who wants to compete for Great Britain.

"I hope Aaron continues to want to compete for Great Britain. If he does, then we will work with him again and carry on like professionals.

"We will support any GB athlete who has got the talent and ability to deliver on the big stage, which is what our job is all about."

Hall, however, insisted the moment belonged to Muhammad.

"The most important thing is we have a young man who has delivered a bronze medal in his first Olympic Games," Hall said.

"Lutalo became European champion in a very short space of time and the credit goes to him for the job he has done at the Olympics under incredible pressure."


Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments