‘I’m extremely good now’: Lutalo Muhammad says nothing less than Rio Olympic taekwondo gold will do

He already has an Olympic bronze medal among his collection but Manchester’s Lutalo Muhammad insists anything but a gold this time around will be a failure.

At London 2012 Muhammad went on to build on his -87kg European title from earlier in the year to win -80kg bronze.

And since then Muhammad has been an almost ever present on the international podium, claiming World Grand Prix Final gold in 2013 and 2015, as well as adding a bronze medal from the inaugural European Games last year.

He missed last year’s World Championships due to a knee injury but bounced in style to triumph at the World Grand Prix series to earn Team GB a Rio quota spot in the -80kg category.

And while that spot is not Muhammad’s just yet, the 24-year-old is adamant he can improve on his bronze medal from London should he be given the opportunity,

“The last four years have been educational for me in the sense that I feel I’ve learnt so much,” he said.

“I was very good in 2012, don’t get me wrong, but I’m extremely good now. I have the mindset, the ability, the will and desire to win that gold medal I truly believe that.

“I’m the reigning World Grand Prix champion and I’m in excellent form.

“We have five months to go and I just cannot wait. There’s the European Championships which is probably the last major tournament before the Olympics which will be a good test of where we’re at.

“Winning gold is definitely the mindset. What is so good about being in this position is that we have four athletes who could not only an Olympic medal but who could realistically win a gold medal. “Myself, Jade Jones, Maham Cho and Bianca Walkden all have world titles, Grand Prix titles, Olympic titles and European titles.

“I feel that this is the golden team. This is the dream team. This is the crème de la crème.

“I’m really excited about what we can do in Rio. Obviously it’s only an individual sport so I can only focus on myself but I think that taekwondo Team GB is going to do big things in Rio.”

While Muhammad is understandably turning his attentions towards a second Olympic outing, it was only last year that the 24-year-old was strutting his stuff at the World University Games.

He represented Middlesex University at the Games in 2011 as well and he admits these early experiences helped prepare him for the Olympics, with over 60 per cent of gold medallists since 1992 having participated in BUCS sport, with 56 members of Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics competing for Great Britain at the World University Games.

“The University Games I’d say are probably the closest you can get to going to an Olympics outside the Olympics,” he added.

“You get the same experience in terms of the athlete’s village with athletes from all different countries taking the bus to the stadium.

“So I think for young athletes if you are in education I would highly recommend it because it’s a very good learning experience.

“For me it was just a learning experience as I didn’t pick up any medals. It was a phenomenal experience and probably the main way it differs from an Olympics is there is no big McDonald’s in the middle of the park which is quite disappointing when you compare and contrast!”

British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues and competitions for more than 150 institutions across 52 different sports. Supported by Deloitte, BUCS offers programmes to athletes from a grass roots level through to Commonwealth and Olympic Games hopefuls

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