Double Olympic medallist Lutalo Muhammad is no stranger to near misses, but the taekwondo star is still standing tall despite missing out on a medal at the World University Games.
The 26-year-old, who was just one second away from Olympic gold in Rio last year, again missed out on silverware as he was defeated 5-4 by Russia’s Rafael Kamalov in Chinese Taipei in the bronze-medal contest.
After Manchester-based Muhammad scored three points to Kamalov’s two in the third round, it looked as though he may close out the match, but the duel ended 4-4 and had to be decided by a golden point.
Sadly for the Brit, Kamalov took the victory, but Walthamstow-born Muhammad insisted he was pleased with his progress after recent injuries had kept him sidelined.
“I had a year out and have had to deal with injuries, for three weeks I was on the surgeon’s bed, so looking at things with perspective, I’m extremely happy,” he said.
“The crowd here is outstanding, the audience really got behind me.
“I’m a bit sorry that I wasn’t able to reward them with a medal, but I did my absolute best and it just wasn’t meant to be.
“I started off a little bit slow, but I was really happy with how I was able to get better with each round.
“To go out in the quarter-finals on golden point, sudden death, just one kick away from a medal, is a little bit disappointing but I’m so happy with my performance.”
The outing in Chinese Taipei was Muhammad’s second World University Games, a multi-sport event held biennially in major cities across the globe.
And the former Middlesex University student, who was competing in the -87kg category, believes the competition has been crucial in his taekwondo development.
“I came to my first World University Games in 2011, a year later I was at the Olympics,” he added.
“Having that experience of being in a village, being around other athletes, bonding with teammates and seeing people from different countries all in one social hub really helped me get used to the Olympic environment.
“It makes me feel a bit sad knowing it’s my last one, I’ve had such a great time and this time has been the best of them all.
“But we’ve still got a lot to go this season and I’m very excited for it.
“We’ve got Morocco first, then Las Vegas, then London, which is my home town so I want to be on the ball for that.”
British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) is the national governing body for Higher Education (HE) sport in the UK, organising leagues, competitions and international representative teams for more than 150 institutions across 52 sports. Over 110 athletes will represent GB at the 29th World University Games (Summer Universiade) in Chinese Taipei, 19-30 August.