Haines inflicts pain on Spain in Open

Ben Haines. Picture: Allan Hutchings (13302-690)
Ben Haines. Picture: Allan Hutchings (13302-690)
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Ben Haines insisted he will come back stronger after mixing it with some of Europe’s top taekwondo talents.

The 19-year-old Rio Olympics hopeful reached the quarter-finals of the Spanish Open.

He was edged out in a tense battle with 2012 European championship bronze medallist Torann Maizeroi.

Haines has been hampered by hand, toe and groin injuries in recent weeks – battle scars picked up from a busy competition schedule with recent trips to Sweden, Germany and Moldova.

But he again impressed on his way to the last eight in Spain, before losing out on golden point to Frenchman Maizeroi, 24, who went on seal the bronze medal at -74kg.

It was a close battle throughout, with the fighters locked together at 1-1 and neither giving an inch – until the decisive final moment.

Haines went into the match with a badly bruised toe picked up earlier in the competition.

That was in addition to the fractured hand and groin problems he was carrying from previous battles.

But the Horndean ace would like another crack at Maizeroi and is now working hard on regaining full fitness and coming back stronger.

‘I definitely think I could beat him next time,’ said the Horndean fighter.

‘It was a really intense match. Torran is an experienced player and he has a good record.

‘I lost my concentration at bit at the end.

‘The injuries were starting to affect me and I didn’t fully commit to my shot when we went to golden point.’

Earlier in the competition, Haines beat two Spanish rivals – much to the displeasure of the partisan home crowd.

‘I won my first match against a Spanish fighter 23-0 and then was up against another player from Spain in the next round,’ said Haines.

‘He was a rough fighter, he kept trying to intimidate me but it didn’t really bother me.

‘I was ahead, then he hit back to take it to golden point.

‘The crowd were roaring for him but I did what I had to do.

‘I caught him with a check turn kick to the head and knocked him to the ground to win.’

After returning from Spain, Haines was invited up to Manchester to train at the Great Britain Taekwondo Academy for sparring sessions with the Spanish and German national squads.

It was another great opportunity for the reigning British -74kg champion.

He relished the chance to go up against rival fighters – including London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Nicolas Garcia Hemme.

Haines said: ‘I had three rounds with Garcia.

‘I didn’t do too bad. He didn’t score a point on me and I scored a few on him.

‘It is great to spar with fighters from different countries.

‘I learned quite a bit from the way they fight and the techniques they use.’