Manchester taekwondo ace Jordan Gayle is desperate to rediscover his best form in the coming months to ensure he can compete in front of his friends and family in October.
Gayle only just qualified for the first round of the Grand Prix Series, which takes place in Moscow between August 14 and 16.
There is another round in Sumsun, Turkey, in September before the series heads to Gayle’s home city between October 16 and 18.
And the 24-year-old said: “I only just got into the Moscow event with the rankings so I want to now take the bull by the horns.
“I am under pressure to be the number one -68kg player [in the UK] and that doesn’t change because of the rankings because I want to win and I want to get the points. I just have to go there and make the most of the opportunity.
“If I could get a gold medal, another medal or a huge chunk of points [in Moscow] then hopefully it will get me into the next Grand Prix [in Samsun] and keep me in the series. Then I have to keep taking steps from then on towards the end of the year.
“It is an exciting year ahead with the 2016 Olympics and I am also excited because the World Championships did not go the way I wanted it to and next year we have the Europeans and I want to go there and give myself a good chance of getting a European medal.
“So all the build up at the end of this year will lead into getting selected for the European Championships.”
The Grand Prix Series provides the top six performers with a chance to secure automatic Olympic qualification places for their countries – those that finish below then go through the usual qualifying events.
Stretford’s Gayle missed on the London 2012 Olympics following 15 months out of the sport with injury and he needs an impressive second half to the year if he is to secure an automatic place for the Rio Games.
The former Manchester Aces player had a good end to 2014 and beginning to 2015, winning the -63kg Commonwealth Championships, the Turkish Open and finishing second in the US Open.
But by his own admission he has struggled to implement his tactics since, going out of the World Championships in his opening fight.
Gayle’s immediate focus is on trying to perform in the first two Grand Prix events so he can secure a sport at the National Squash Centre in October.
He added: “Manchester has really put on a good show every time they have hosted events so there is no doubt they will do the same again.
“I will be trying my hardest to make sure I am still in the Grand Prix series at that point because coming from Manchester, it is always nice to fight in your home city and the past two events there I have put in good performances where I lost in the last second in both of them.
“It will be nice to compete in Manchester and hopefully take something (a medal or points) away from it as well.
“For me it is really nice to look into the crowd and see your family. My dad tends to come away a lot with me but it is nice to see my mum there watching me and it gives me that extra security because I have my family and friends behind me. It is good.”
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 on sale 19 May at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp
Image courtesy of GB Taekwondo via YouTube, with thanks.