Switch to taekwondo pays for Scots fighter

DAMON Sansum admits the World Taekwondo Championships cannot come soon enough following a superb start to the year which has left him flying high on confidence.

Sansum aims to be the first British world champion.

Sansum, from Elgin, has been chosen as a member of a 14-strong Great Britain team for the 2015 World Championships which take place in Chelyabinsk, Russia, from May 12-18.

A former kickboxing world champion turned taekwondo fighter, the 28-year-old has certainly become accustomed to trips to the podium of late.

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Bronze medals have arrived at both the Luxor and Turkish Opens, while in January Sansum claimed gold at the US Open in Orlando.

Such performances have left him fourth in the -80kg world rankings and the Scottish fighter, who originally switched to taekwondo in 2010, is setting his sights high again for Russia.

“It’s been the best start to the year I’ve ever had,” he said. “It’s been really good, the performances have been good, the training has been really good with my coach and some of the stuff we’ve been working on has been working perfectly in tournaments.

“I think the reason for the success this year is me just getting comfortable. The transition from kickboxing has taken time. I’ve had success in the past and maybe not consistency, but I knew it would take time and now I’ve found my own style.

“I think it’s been a mix of me maturing in the sport after the transfer, and me and my coach bonding well and getting the tactics bang on.

“The World Championships coming up is a big tournament; Great Britain has never had a male world champion which shows the standard of the tournament.

“It is a massive event, but I’m just going to go in, not put too much pressure on and just enjoy myself and if I perform like I have been doing, then I’ve got a good chance to do really well, get a medal and the possibility of a gold is definitely out there.”

Sansum’s last taste of World Championship action resulted in him being knocked out in the last 16 after being struck with a head-kick in the final moments against Russian Anton Kotkov.

But while these World Championships carry extra significance with valuable ranking points on offer for next year’s Olympic Games, Sansum is adamant he is well equipped to deal with the pressure.

“It’s about not putting it on a pedestal too much. It’s the same tournament as the other tournaments, it’s the same athletes, it’s the same people I’ve fought, it’s the same people you see,” he added.

“I do a lot of work with the psychologist we have in the set- up. I love psychology and I think that helps me out a lot in my performances

“I think obviously the World Championships are a major goal, it is going to put you in good stead for Olympic selection, but I think if you focus too much on the long-term goal it might distract you or add pressure on you.”

l  The World Taekwondo Grand Prix – featuring the best 
Olympic and World Champions from across the globe – is coming to Manchester on 16-18 October. Experience the excitement, drama and electrifying atmosphere of this explosive Olympic sport with tickets on sale 19 May at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp