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100 days until Rio 2016: Who will be going for gold in the Martial Arts?

27th April 2016

100 days until Rio 2016: Who will be going for gold in the Martial Arts?
This summer Rio De Janeiro will play host to the 31st modern Olympic Games. The MaracanĂ£ will be the venue for the opening ceremony on the 5th of August and the last rounds of qualification are taking place for athletes to secure their place in the Team GB squad. Just to add to the buzz, Adidas only this morning unveiled the brand new kit for Team GB this summer.

It seems crazy that the London Olympics was almost four years ago. Since then the Olympic legacy has helped British athletes not only begin their careers, but also grow them and in some cases become global triumphs.

Team GB experienced a fantastic 2012, with a third place finish in the medals table, winning 29 gold, 17 silver and 19 bronze, a total of 65 medals. Only China and the USA were able to surpass this feat.

A core part of that medals tally came from the Team GB Martial Arts squad. In total, 9 of those medals came from the Martial Arts with four of them being gold. Team GB entered athletes in five different disciplines in 2012, boxing being the most successful, followed by Taekwondo and Judo. There were also entrants in Fencing and Wrestling, but no medals were won.

Olympic legacy

The impact of the Olympics is no better displayed by the success that some of the gold medal winning martial artists have had since. The boxing squad in particular has gone on to achieve great things.

Only recently, we wrote about the success of Anthony Joshua, who is now a world heavyweight champion with an undefeated record to date. This came off the back of a gold medal in 2012. Luke Campbell, another gold medal winning boxer has also had success professionally. He currently holds the Commonwealth Lightweight title and has only lost once in his fourteen fights since turning professional.

Nicola Adams has continued to box non-professionally and has represented Great Britain at further tournaments. Adams was the first British woman to win a boxing gold medal at the Summer Olympics and since then has also gone on to win gold in the Commonwealth Games and the European Games.

Gemma Gibbons, who won silver in the Judo has also continued to represent Team GB. She was part of the 2014 Commonwealth Games squad in Glasgow, and won a silver medal.

Welsh Taekwondo athlete Jade Jones took gold in 2012 at just the age of 19. She has continued her progression and gone on since to win a gold medal at the European Games in 2015 at Baku. Only last week she won gold at the German Open, as she continues her comeback from a knee injury ahead of the summer.

There was also some success in the Paralympics, as the Judo team won two of the medals contributing to Great Britain's medal haul of 120. Sam Ingram took silver, while Ben Quilter took bronze in their respective categories.

Rio 2016 - Who to look out for?

As it stands, Team GB have a chance of competing in all five of the Martial Arts disciplines. A number of the same athletes will be representing, but there will also be plenty of new medal hopes.

Boxing

The obvious name to look out for in this year's boxing squad is Nicola Adams. The 2012 gold medallist will be looking to retain her crown as the Olympic Champion. All of the Team GB squad secured there places with victory in Turkey earlier this month. One of the most promising medal hopes is super-heavyweight Joe Joyce, who qualified after defeating the last boxer to ever score a win over Anthony Joshua, Magomedrasul Madjev from Azerbaijan. Also going for gold is Middleweight Antony Fowler who won gold in 2014 at the Commonwealth games. Amongst others, Team GB will also be represented by a certain Muhammad Ali. Not the one you're thinking of though. The amateur from Bradford will fight in the flyweight category and will be looking to go one better on his European Championship silver medal.

Judo

Gemma Gibbons will hope she can go one better four years on from London as she aims for gold in Rio. However, qualification is not yet secured. She is battling it out with Welsh rival Natalie Powell, with only one space available. Whichever makes the squad will be a main medal hope. The highest ranked Brit in the squad however is Sally Conway, who is rated 7th in her weight division. Along with Alice Schlesinger, one of GB's more consistent performers, she'll be eyeing up a medal in Rio.

Taekwondo

Unsurprisingly, the 23 year old Jade Jones is still a fundamental part of the TKD squad. She'll be going for back-to-back golds in Rio and is one of the favourites to do so. Lutalo Muhammed, Great Britain's most successful male Taekwondo athlete in history will also be in the mix in Rio. A new name in the frame however is Bianca Walkden. Walkden missed out on 2012 through injury but has since taken gold in the European Championships and will be a favourite in the heavyweight category.

Fencing

Despite a large fencing team and meeting targets in London four years ago, there were no medals, nor a progression past the second round. Four years on, the squad setting off for Rio is much smaller, with only the men's foil team able to qualify. They finished sixth in London and will be looking to improve on this, with James Davis probably the best hope of an individual medal.

Wrestling

As it stands, nobody has qualified as part of the wrestling squad. But there are still a few more qualification tournaments to come, so you never know...

Paralympics

In 2012, Team GB also took home two medals in the Paralympic Judo. This year, Sam Ingram will be looking to go one better for gold and alongside him Johnathan Drane, Jack Hodgson and Chris Skelley will also be in with a chance in their respective weight divisions.

Following in their footsteps

None of the GB Martial Arts representatives are professionals. They all compete at Amateur or Youth level. Many of them have been taking martial arts classes since they were young and thanks to the additional funding Sport England and the Team GB programmes received on the back of 2012, there have become more grass roots coaches available and popularity has significantly increased.

Whether you want to try a boxing class, or have a go at a more traditional martial art and take judo classes or Taekwondo classes, there are plenty of ways to get yourself started.

Combat sports such as these are a great way to keep physically fit and learn to be disciplined. Many classes are available with Martial Arts Clubs around the UK and it is easy to find one near you.

Visit the Martial Arts Near You homepage to search. By using your postcode, you can identify the martial arts instructors in your area. Once you have found the one you are looking for, you can leave an enquiry or now in many cases you can book a place in the class online.
Source: Martial Arts Near You