Haines has the golden touch again to seal national title

Ben Haines on top of the podium in Manchester. Picture: Pascal Franssen - pascal-franssen.com
Ben Haines on top of the podium in Manchester. Picture: Pascal Franssen - pascal-franssen.com
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Ben Haines collected his third national title in four years with a powerful performance in Manchester.

The Great Britain Taekwondo Academy player, from Horndean, claimed the gold at the -74kg weight.

In the final, Haines fought off the challenge from Danny Brewer, of Mansfield club Kang Han, to record an entertaining 14-10 triumph.

The success has capped a good run of competitions for the 21-year-old talent.

He also picked up an international bronze medal for Great Britain in Israel and gained some valuable ranking points ahead of the shake-up next year for places in the Rio 2016 Olympic squad.

Being a full-time member of the GB ranks brings its own pressures in the national competition.

Rivals are looking to take the scalp of a national squad player and make the most of their opportunity.

But Haines relished that challenge as he stepped up to the mark once again.

He said: ‘My final was the last match on and it was a really good atmosphere.

‘I enjoyed it. Everyone was crowding around to watch, with the medal ceremonies on after.

‘My opponent’s coach knew my game because I beat one of his players in the final in 2014.

‘That was a challenge to overcome. You have to execute your game plan and take some risks. That’s what can win you a match.

‘Because you are a member of the academy everyone wants to beat you. So it is good incentive to stay ahead.’

Haines was also pleased to be able to represent his club in the national competition, fighting for British Taekwondo South, who enjoyed an excellent competition overall.

They had eight national champions, including Gosport’s Leona Cullen, who showed she is a rising star of the sport.

Haines added: ‘Leona is technically amazing. She had some great fights. She is definitely one to look out for.’

It has been a busy few weeks for Haines.

After a solid show in Poland, he then went close to making the gold medal fight in Israel, missing out on golden point to Russian Kadyrbech Daurov.

That was after a comfortable win against home player Shlomo Shazo, from Israel.

Haines said: ‘My semi-final against the Russian was a hard match.

‘It finished 10-10 and went to golden point. I applied a tactic that my coach, Gareth Brown, had agreed with but as I did it the guy slightly moved off line.

‘My coach said to go off my back leg and cut but I was too focused on trying to score with the tactic that had been working throughout the match.

‘Next time I will listen to my coach. I was gutted to lose on golden point but it was good to get a medal and some Olympic ranking points.’