How much more taekwondo heartache can Team GB suffer?
Lauren Williams was leading her welterweight gold medal contest by three points with just 10 seconds remaining but a late flurry from Croatia’s Matea Jelic denied her gold and left her stunned on the sidelines.
Just 24 hours after Bradly Sinden let a late lead slip in his final and Jade Jones’ crashed to a shock first-round exit, it’s been a Games of mixed emotion for GB’s taekwondo players at the Makuhari Messe. Two silver medals have been chalked up but it was nearly so much more.
With Bianca Walkden and Mahama Cho to come on Tuesday, who knows which twist this plot will take next.
What is certain is that Williams knows she needs to address how she finishes fights after admitting concentration is an Achilles heel.
“I didn’t know there was only ten seconds left. It threw me back to the World Championships in 2017, I did exactly the same thing. It is a mental block I need to get over,” she said.
“It is the biggest stage of my career and hopefully it will never happen again.”
Williams has time on her side and will no doubt come again at the next Olympics in Paris, which are just three years away.
She has also emerged from the shadow of her training partner Jones, who was there watching on the sidelines.
It was Jones who first inspired her to don a dodok by winning gold at London 2012. Williams, in a caravan on holiday, knew she wanted to be just like her.
And for much of the day, she was, as she raced to the final with three wins.
She blitzed Tonga’s Malia Paseka to the extent the referee stopped the contest, beat Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba 13-12 and followed up with a 24-18 victory against Ivory Coast’s Ruth Gbagbi
Then came a thrilling final. Williams held a 5-4 lead after the first round and was then level at 10-10 after the second against the top-seeded Jelic, who beat her in the European Championship final in May.
Jelic edged 13-12 in front in the final round but Williams scored four points in quick succession courtesy of two blows to the mid-rift.
That advantage was as big as six points with less than 30 seconds to go but as Jelic rallied, Williams faltered. The end was sudden and decisive, as the Croatian won scored eight points via four blows.
“I’m very happy with how I performed all day, it’s gutting in the last 10 [seconds]. But an Olympic silver medal, it’s not bad is it?” she said.
“I’ve not had the best preparation at all. I tore my hamstring three weeks ago. But that’s not an excuse, I felt good coming here today, I’ve had injuries, I came out to the Games late as well which damaged my prep.
“But as soon as I got here, I hit the ground running and I was pretty confident going into today, so I’m happy.
“It’s been absolutely crazy. For my first Olympic Games, it’s been insane.”