Updated: Tuesday, 21st November 2017 @ 8:07am

World Taekwondo Grand Prix: Rising GB star beats bullies to book Manchester berth

World Taekwondo Grand Prix: Rising GB star beats bullies to book Manchester berth

| By Marios Papaloizou

Rising taekwondo star Josh Calland believes he is getting better all the time and is ready to take on the best in the business at this month’s World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester.

What started as a way to defend himself against bullies has snowballed into a career for the 17-year-old who earlier this year competed at his first World Championships.

It was a steep learning curve for the Liverpool athlete who admits he was awestruck at the occasion. 

But he believes that the experience is one that has served him well as he looks to establish himself as one of the world’s best at -58kg.

“I have had a few injuries this season, I had an ankle injury and a knee injury and I have missed quite a lot of competitions,” he said.

“It's been an OK season but without the injuries I feel like I could have done a lot more and I came back after and went to Austria and got bronze. 

“Then I went to the Worlds in May which was a really good experience and a good learning curve even though I lost to Russia 15-12.

“It taught me how to deal with the big stage and with the pressure of having to perform because it was my first worlds.

“To see what a major is like was a big help and I think maybe I was a little bit overawed by it but I will be able to block that out next time.”

The upcoming Grand Prix will see Britain’s best going for gold including the likes of Olympic champion Jade Jones and world champion Bianca Walkden.

And for Calland the chance to train with elite level competitors at the GB Taekwondo Academy in Manchester is something that has lead to dramatic increases in his ability.

“I have being doing the sport for nine years now, as a kid I used to get bullied so I just got into taekwondo to learn some self defence,” he added.

“I fell in love with everything about it straight away and I have been doing it ever since and have been training every day.

“I want to win the Olympics. Training here is amazing because it's such a high level and everyone is really encouraging.

“They get behind you and it's a really good atmosphere to train in and you know that there are Olympic champions that have trained here so I try and work and be like them.

“My overall game has gotten better and I am just trying to keep on getting better and make sure I am improving all the time.”

The World Taekwondo Grand Prix – featuring the very best Olympic and world champions from across the game – is coming to Manchester on October 16-18. Tickets on sale at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/WTGP

Image courtesy of TKD-NEWS via YouTube, with thanks.