Taekwondo: Bianca Walkden hopes to prove her Olympic credentials

British Taekwondo Open Championships

Manchester Regional Arena, SportCity
1-2 October, 2011
Daily reports and select video highlights on the BBC Sport website; twitter updates from BBC Sport's Nick Hope - @NickHopeBBC

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GB fighters set for British Open challenge

World Combat Games champion Bianca Walkden hopes this weekend's British Open in Manchester will give her the chance to prove her Olympic potential.

The Liverpudlian has had a difficult year, rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament and learning her weight division was not selected for 2012.

"I've held my teddy at night, that's how hard it's been," said Walkden.

"I'm getting through it now and trying to see how I can reach London, win Europeans and the British Open."

After an impressive 2010 Walkden climbed to world number two in her +73kg division, but injury struck in February of this year.

Despite defying the odds to reach the World Championships in South Korea, a gold medal for Sarah Stevenson in the -67kg category and a silver for Welsh -57kg fighter Jade Jones saw their divisions nominated for the London Olympics.

The 20-year-old will compete at her usual weight in the British Championships in Manchester, but is not ruling out a change later in the year, having claimed gold in two weight categories at the recent Polish Open.

"I'm going to see if I can do 67 and make the weight and try for that spot," Walkden told BBC Sport.

"Obviously I'll be the reserve for that spot if [world champion] Sarah Stevenson gets injured or can't make it then I'll step in, but if there's anything I can do to try and go anyway, I'll try.

Walkden added, "I can't give up can I? It's not me, I'm going to go for it."

Stevenson, her likely rival for the -67kg division Olympic position, is not competing at the British Open.

The Beijing bronze medallist's father passed away in July and Stevenson is currently caring for her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January.

Great Britain's performance director Gary Hall has hailed the field for the British Championships as the 'strongest ever'.

Stevenson's absence aside, GB's three other World Championship medallists, JJJones, Michael Harvey and Martin Stamper will all be in action on the first day of competition.

"Outside the World Championship, it is probably the best quality line-up assembled for an Open of this kind," said Hall.

On Sunday attention will turn to the men's -80kg division where European Champion and former World number one Aaron Cookwill compete for the first time on home soil since he decided to quit the GB programme in June.

A full schedule of events can be found on the official British Taekwondo website.

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