Jade Jones won Britain’s first ever taekwondo gold last night when she beat Hou Yuzhuo of China in the women’s under-57kg final at the Excel Arena.
Jones, 19, had produced a late rally to land her trademark headkick and stun world number one Tseng Li-Cheng of Chinese Taipei 10-6 in the semi-final.
However, the opening against Hou – who had beaten Jones in last year’s World Championship final – was tense, as each fighter tested their range during a scoreless first two minutes.
A low blow from the Chinese fighter accrued a second penalty which resulted in a point for Jones towards the end of the second round, and another shot to the body on the buzzer made it 2-0.
The Welshwoman continued to go on the offensive and opened up a 5-1 lead heading into the final 30 seconds, closing out a stunning 6-4 victory.
Jones’ gold eclipses bronze won four years ago in Beijing by Sarah Stevenson, who fights tomorrow.
Jones told BBC2: “It’s amazing. The crowd has just been amazing.
“Before I came out I was thinking that she took my World Championship final. That killed me for ages.
“So I wasn’t going to let her beat me here in front of a home crowd.
“To be the first British athlete to win an Olympic gold (in taekwondo) is just amazing.”
Jones said she owed her success to her coach. “My coach Paul Green is a legend. Without him I wouldn’t be nowhere near where I was today,” she said.
“To win the Olympic gold is obviously special but for my family and friends to be here... to perform has been amazing.”
In return, Green praised the champion, saying: “I’m so proud of her. “The work this girl has put in in the last six months has been ridiculous.”
Liverpool’s Martin Stamper had earlier narrowly lost his bronze medal fight against Afghan Rohullah Nikpah in the men’s under-68kg.
Stamper was disappointed not to have been able to add to Britain’s medal haul, but paid tribute to Jones.
He said: “She has been amazing, just breaking through like that.
“Jade had got ridiculously good control of her legs, and is one of the best in the world at headshots, that is what you need in this game.
“She will be one of the stars of the Games, she is only 19, but is already a legend.”
Stamper, a bronze medallist in the 2011 World Championships, felt a lapse in concentration proved costly.
“It is tough to take because I have worked so hard over the past two years, when my performances have really picked up,” said Stamper.
“I knew if I put in four good performances, I could achieve anything and I was so close in the semi-final to pulling off a shock.
“In the bronze match, I just made one mistake when I thought I was controlling the match, then one head shot changed the game.”
Stamper plans to take a well-earned break before returning to train towards the World Championships next year and the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The 25-year-old said: “I have a month of now and have a holiday booked in Portugal with my girlfriend, my daughter and dad.”