Lauren Williams had to settle for Team GB silver after being defeated in a late kickback by European champion Matea Jelic in a hard-fought taekwondo -67kg final…
Lauren Williams came painfully close to capping magic on Monday, but fell prey to a dazzling late attack from Croatia’s Matea Jelic.
The 22-year-old Welsh was six points ahead with 19 seconds to go and three points with 14 seconds to go, but Jelic’s clinical attack saw her opponent snatch the gold from her grasp.
In the end, the margin of victory was 25-22, but Williams did everything they could to finish a nerve-wracking match.
Team GB had previously won three golds on a memorable day in the Japanese capital, with Adam Peaty taking the win in the 100m breaststroke, divers Tom Daly and Matty Lee triumphing on the synchronized 10m platform and Tom Pidcock taking the field. blew away and finished first in the cross country Mountain biking.
But Williams, in the -67kg category, fell desperately short, despite a heroic performance against the favourite.
Earlier in the day, she had defeated Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi 24-18 to secure her spot in the final. She then had a grueling wait of nearly five hours for the gold medal clash.
Williams’ trip to the Olympics included staying in a mobile home. At the age of 14 she moved from Blackwood to Manchester to train with the Great Britain taekwondo team at their headquarters.
Due to her age, she was too young to remain in digs and so she lived instead with her mother in the family’s caravan, sleeping on sofas.
She was inspired by Jade Jones’ taekwondo gold in London 2012, while on holiday in another caravan. Jones, who made an early exit, was in the arena to watch the drama unfold.
The Welsh girl’s preparation for Tokyo was not orthodox to say the least. Last year, her family was evacuated from the family home on VE Day when her father, Allan, discovered a suspected bomb while he was gardening.
The alarm caused three streets to be evacuated, with social distancing celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II temporarily halted before the bomb turned out to be an old fence post.
Williams turned her parents’ living room into a gym after she returned to South Wales at the start of the lockdown and joked that she destroyed ornaments in the run-up to Japan.
One emotional evening, everyone was left in pieces.