Updated: Friday, 23rd August 2019 @ 11:02am

Rio Grande for Team GB's Cho in Baku as heavyweight sizes up Olympics debut

Rio Grande for Team GB's Cho in Baku as heavyweight sizes up Olympics debut

| By Pippa Field

As well as chasing a medal at this month’s European Games, Mahama Cho admits he will also be undertaking his own fact-gathering mission as he looks to build towards Rio 2016.

Cho missed out on selection for London 2012, meaning the forthcoming European Games in Baku from June 12-28 will be his first taste of a major multi-sport event.

With an opening and closing ceremony, plus an athletes’ village and 20 sports across 30 disciplines, the first-ever European Games will mirror a smaller version of the Olympic Games on the continental stage.

Cho himself is part of a seven-strong Team GB taekwondo squad, which also includes Olympic champion Jade Jones and recently crowned world champion Bianca Walkden.

And with valuable Olympic ranking points on offer towards Rio, 25-year-old Cho is determined to do his country proud.

“I’m really excited for Baku, it’s a pleasure just to be in the team – only seven qualified, so it’s not a big team going to a World Championships,” he said.

"It’s satisfying to be among the top 14 in Europe, and going out there to represent your country is always a pleasure.

“So my main focus again is to go out and represent my country the best I can, hopefully try to medal as well, and there are 40 ranking points to collect also if I can get amongst the podium matches, so I’m really looking forward to it.

“It’s my first time being mixed with different sports, obviously the Olympics it’s one of the biggest prestigious events to get into, so for it to be just European countries, for me it is one of the biggest stages to be on, so it’s a privilege and I can’t wait to be involved.”

Cho’s most recent outing saw him suffer a quarter-final at the Austrian Open last weekend, while he went out in the second round of last month’s World Championships in Russia.

But with Baku giving him the opportunity to build the momentum back up, Cho insists full concentration is key.

“It’s a crucial time at the moment, so at this stage you can’t really look to mess up, you really want to get your game right, do the best you can and get some ranking points to get up there,” he added.

“Baku is a great chance to show what I can do on the big stage and I want to take it with both hands.

“It’s going to be a rollercoaster, but hopefully I should eventually get to Rio.”

The World Taekwondo Grand Prix – featuring the very best Olympic and World Champions from across the globe – is coming to Manchester on 16-18 October. Experience the excitement, drama and electrifying atmosphere of this explosive Olympic sport with tickets now on sale at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp