Rebecca McGowan’s taekwondo senior World Championship debut didn’t end with a medal in Manchester today (Wednesday) but with plenty of optimism for the future.
The 18-year-old from Dumbarton was one of three Scots in action on the opening day of the first taekwondo worlds ever staged in the UK.
She then showed her potential to a home audience by knocking out 2017 world bronze medallist, Reshmie Oogink of the Netherlands, en route to the quarter-finals.
However, teenager McGowan’s bid for the semi-finals of the -73kg event ended in disappointment against South Korea’s Da-bin Lee.
The Asian star defeated Britain’s double world champion, Bianca Walkden, to win the 2018 Taoyuan Grand Prix. And the 22-year-old proved too strong for her opponent.
“I didn’t fight my best,” said McGowan after a 28-2 loss. “But it’s also positive to know I can beat top girls like Oogink.
“I can take plenty away to go and work on and improve. But it was a really good experience fighting in front of friends and family, “added McGowan who defeated Oogink 20-13 and Columbia’s Laura Ayala 18-3.
Last year Jordyn Smith won the junior world championship title and fighting at -46kg was the lightest member of the GB squad.
She came up against Mahla Momenzadeh of Iran who beat her 16-7 at the 2018 Youth Olympics qualifying tournament.
“I started strongly and took the lead quite early,” she explained. “And the following two round I should have put her under more pressure but possibly stood off her too much.
“I’m disappointed because I wanted to do well for my family, teammates and crowd who were right behind me. The noise was incredible when I went out to fight.
“But it is all a learning curve and there are things I can take back into training and focus on for the next tournament-the Grand Prix in Rome.”
Hassan Haider, appearing at his second senior world championship received bye in round one before tackling Yeldos Yskak of Kazakhstan in the last 32.
Dropping five of the first round’s seven points, he battled back to win the second but eventually lost the contest 21-12.
“I feel like I lost it in the first round,” said Haider who will return to action at next month’s Austrian Open.
“Mentally, I was switched on but perhaps I was a bit overwhelmed and he had the momentum.
“When I calmed down I got back into it but just couldn’t carry it forward.
“I got close but even the way I chased wasn’t ideal. I could have done it a lot better.
“In the end, I was probably thinking about too many different things. As soon as I realised what I could do it was good but I just didn’t do enough.”
Elsewhere, the exciting event’s Opening Ceremony featured speeches from World Taekwondo President Chungwon Choue, GB Taekwondo Chair Julia Newton, British Taekwondo President Sarah Stevenson and Councillor Abid Latif Chohan.
Scottish athletes, Jordyn Smith and Hassan Haider (formerly of Central Taekwondo) made another appearance on the mats but this time, to read the athletes’ oath on behalf of everyone competing over the next five days.