Dominant Sansum grabs Commonwealth title

England's Thangaes Nithiraja, right, fights Australia's Michael Kakakios at the Commonwealth Championships. Photograph: Jon Savage

England's Thangaes Nithiraja, right, fights Australia's Michael Kakakios at the Commonwealth Championships. Photograph: Jon Savage

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DAMON Sansum added Commonwealth gold to his growing collection of medals at Meadowbank last night as he builds towards Rio 2016.

The Elgin-raised former world kickboxing champion missed out on the European title this year and also a World Grand Prix gold by the narrowest of margins.

But there was little doubt about his dominance of the Under-80kg category in the Commonwealth Championships where there is the added bonus of world-ranking points.

Sansum acknowledges that London 2012 came too early for him, having just switched sports but the next Olympic Games are very much part of his itinerary.

“I only came in just over a year before London after changing styles and now I’m getting a lot more comfortable in taekwondo and I’d say that recently my performances have been getting better and I’m getting towards where I want to be,” he said.

Sixteen year-old Asia Bailey from Larbert missed out on gold in the Under-49kg event when she lost to Stoke’s Charlie Maddock.

The event attracted 600 players from 21 countries – and, for much of the time, Hall One at Meadowbank looked as if every single one of them was in the arena.

It is a bold move for Scotland to take on the hosting of the sixth Commonwealth Championships and the scene is one of organised chaos. But this is an event that has attracted the likes of Olympic Under-57kg champion Jade Jones, fighting here for Wales, and England’s Olympic bronze medallists Lutalo Muhammad. Jones made short work of her first opponent, Canada’s Gabrielle Rousseau, 9-2 in her opening match.

There is also a bigger picture for the Commonwealth Taekwondo Union, founded just 11 years ago.

The sport wants to be elevated into the main Commonwealth Games in 2022 and this weekend’s event is seeking to bring that ambition closer. As well as the kyorugi (fighting) competition, in another hall, was a poomsae (technique) event and, for the first time, a para-taekwondo exhibition.

“In 2010, we achieved the almost unprecedented success of going straight to being a Category 2 Commonwealth Games sport,” said William Darlington, chairman of Taekwondo Scotland. “These championships are part of the campaign to be included in the Games themselves.”

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