Next generation of Manchester-based GB Taekwondo fighters looking to impress at Swiss Open

By Steven Oldham

GB Taekwondo’s George Lee believes he has no reason to be nervous ahead of his senior debut for his country at next weekend’s Swiss Open in Geneva.

The 17-year-old – part of the national set-up in Newton Heath – will fight in the -68kg weight class – the division in which fellow GB Academy fighter Martin Stamper narrowly missed out on a medal in at London 2012.

George will be joined by Jamie Abley (-68kg), Ruebyn Richards (-80kg) , German Open champion Damon Sansum (80kg+) and Serbian Open winner Bianca Walkden is the sole female represenative.

He said: “This may be my first senior competition but I train with the likes of Martin, Jordan Gayle and Michael Harvey on a daily basis.

I am just treating it like any other tournament.”

The Swiss Open gives young fighters George and Jamie, 18,  the chance to impress early on as preparations for the next Games – Rio 2016 – are already well underway.

He went to London 2012 along with some of the other younger members of the national team as part of the Olympic Ambition Programme.

“I watched Jade Jones win her gold and I think that inspired everyone, not just me,” he said.

Jones is proof that youth does not close doors to the most prestigious of  titles – she is only 19 and already an Olympic gold medallist.

George moved from his Lewisham home into the Academy at the age of just 16 last year, but he is certain he has made the right choice.

He said: “It’s what I needed to take my taekwondo career to the next level. If you’re not the brightest, you’re not going to do a law degree! I prefer to kick peoples’ heads in.

I do miss my mates and not being able to watch Millwall. But if you get an amazing job offer across the country, you are definitely going to take it. I did!”

The weekend will also serve as an opportunity for all fighters involved to stake a claim for selection for the next major – next month’s French Open in Paris.

For updates on how George and his team-mates get on next weekend, follow @TeamGBTaekwondo.

Follow @spoldham on Twitter.

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With thanks to GB Taekwondo for photo

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