Lutalo Muhammad & Jordan Gayle win taekwondo gold in Serbia

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Lutalo Muhammad

Britain's Lutalo Muhammad continued his build-up to the World Taekwondo Grand Prix in Manchester in December with victory at the Serbian Open.

Olympic bronze medallist Muhammad, 22, beat Dionys Kronreif of Germany in the -87kg final, with fellow Brit Jordan Gayle victorious in the -68kg class.

Bianca Walkden (-73kg), Andrew Deer (-80kg), Ben Haines (-74kg) and Dom Brookes (-58kg) won silver medals.

And London Olympian Martin Stamper won bronze in the -68kg division.

Olympic champion Jade Jones missed the event as she continued her rehabilitation following a back injury.

The Serbia Open is likely to be the final competition for many British fighters before the inaugural Manchester Grand Prix on 13-15 December.external-link

It also offered athletes the chance to banish memories of a disappointing 2013 World Championships where the team failed to win a medal.

Muhammad was eliminated at the quarter-final stage at the Mexico Worlds earlier this year, but returned to winning ways with victory at the national championships in September before success in Serbia.

"I'm very happy with today's result and it's always good to be back in the ring and performing well," he told BBC Sport.

"It's been a really good weekend for the GB team - coming to Serbia and taking gold is great preparation for the Grand Prix back home in Manchester."

The fighter will return to the -80kg Olympic division for the year-ending Grand Prix, where he could face fellow Briton Aaron Cook - the man he was controversially selected ahead of for London 2012.

"I know that's going to be a tough competition but as ever I'll be going for the win," he said.

Walkden, 22, is another returning to form after failing to finish on the podium in Mexico and she did not concede a point en-route to the Serbian Open final.

However, she was denied gold when +67kg Olympic champion Milica Mandic of Croatia struck first in sudden death.

Unseeded Gayle, 22, defeated fellow Briton Stamper in the -68kg semi-finals.

Gayle strengthened his case for a wildcard invite to Manchester with a 6-2 win against Bulgarian third seed Vladimir Dalakliev in the final.

The Manchester event, which is expected to host all London Olympic and 2013 world champions, will form the first stage of qualification for the 2016 Rio Games.

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