Haines boosts worlds bid with Swedish success

Taekwondo talent Ben Haines shone in Sweden
Taekwondo talent Ben Haines shone in Sweden
Derby County's Jamie Hanson. Picture: PA Images

Pompey monitor Derby midfielder

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THE GOOD news keeps coming for Ben Haines who has seen his Olympic and world championship hopes boosted.

An impressive performance at the Swedish Open saw the Horndean talent claim a silver medal at -74kg level.

Haines, runner up in The News Sports Awards young sportsman of the year category for 2012, won four fights on his way to the final as he achieved his goal of winning a place on the rostrum.

He saw off taekwondo players from Serbia and the Netherlands in the first two rounds and got past his Kuwaiti opponent in the quarter-finals.

That set up a battle with an Israel national team member in the last four.

It proved a thrilling contest, with Haines, 18, taking the victory on golden point.

He said: ‘I didn’t think I was going to beat Israel but my confidence was at an all-time high because I had already won three matches.

‘He was a national team fighter which made it even better.

‘I took him to golden point – which I shouldn’t have done – but I managed to win it.

‘It’s first to get a point and you have really got to go for it. You have to be focused and in the game 100 per cent to win.’

The dramatic victory took Haines into the final where he came up against Serbia for the second time in the competition.

And although the contest didn’t go his way, the silver medal made the trip a big success.

It was a huge fillip in his bid to win a place at the world championships in Mexico later this year.

‘Serbia had seen me fight in the earlier round and obviously watched me and had spoken about me – the guy was a good player,’ said Haines.

‘The silver medal puts me in a running order, hopefully, for the world championships.

‘It doesn’t mean I am going to get it because they have got other options in the academy.

‘All I am doing is giving them a problem.

‘They are thinking, “right, who do we take? He’s medalled in -74kgs – some of the others have medals in -80kg”.

‘It’s what I set out to do.’

Haines has been out in Las Vegas for coaching ahead of his next international competition in Germany.

He was given a big lift before the trip to Sweden when he was told he would not have to go through the phases of the Fighting Chance: Battle for Brazil as the preparation work for Rio 2016 hots up.

Martial arts fighters will compete in the GB Taekwondo and UK Sport initiative in a bid to earn a full-time Academy place.

But Haines has already made a great impression during his recent training sessions with the squad and on the recent tour to Korea where he joined Olympians Jade Jones and Martin Stamper.

Haines added: ‘The battle for Brazil has been taken off my shoulders and it made me feel so much more relaxed ahead of the competition in Sweden.

‘They have seen what I am like in Korea and when I’ve been training up there two times a week.

‘They know what I can do.’