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Walker heartbroken after Games exit

By David Kelly

Kurt Walker was left gutted yesterday when he exited the European Games at the first stage.

The talented bantamweight was edged out on a split decision as Russian Nazirov Bakhtovar won 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.

Bakhtovar took the opening round on two of the judges' cards, and that ultimately proved to be enough to secure victory. The Russian claimed the second 10-9 across the board but Walker - despite sustaining a cut - bounced back to take the third by an identical score.

The Russian had also beaten Lisburn man Walker on a close verdict three years ago in the quarter-finals of the 2012 Brandenburg Cup.

Commonwealth Games silver medallist Michaela Walsh will open her challenge against former World and European gold medallist Elena Savelyeva of Russia on Saturday.

Ireland's Olympic champion Katie Taylor will be in action a day later when she takes on the last woman to defeat her - Bulgaria's Denista Eliseeva.

Eliseeva triumphed over Taylor on points at a Multi-Nations event in Bulgaria in February 2011 although it was regarded as a hugely contentious decision. Since that fight, Taylor, 29, has beaten the Bulgarian on two occasions.

Belfast's Sean McComb and Brendan Irvine will be in action tomorrow and Friday, respectively. Lightweight McComb meets Tymur Beliak of Ukraine, while Irvine takes on Bulgarian Tinko Banabakov at light-flyweight.

Meanwhile, Stoke teenager Charlie Maddock struck sudden-death gold for Great Britain in a dramatic finish to the women's 49kg taekwondo final.

Maddock capped an exhilarating series of performances throughout the day with a golden point winner over Serbia's Tijana Bogdanovic to claim her nation's second gold medal of the Games.

And on a successful day for the GB squad in Azerbaijan, Lani Belcher and Ed McKeever took silver and bronze medals respectively in the canoe sprint competition at Mingachevir.

But it was 19-year-old Maddock who stole the show with four feisty wins which marked her out as the latest star to emerge from the GB taekwondo production line.

The former kick-boxing world champion wept tears of joy after her win but fired a warning to her future rivals that she can only continue to improve as she grows into the sport.

Maddock said: "To be honest I never thought two years ago I would even be doing taekwondo, let alone be coming here and doing this.

"I still feel like I'm learning. There are obviously areas I can improve on - in some places I was attacking too much - so I've still got a lot to learn from that."

Belcher said: "It was a tough race because of the heat and on the first lap there was a bit of a tussle. So I was pleased to fight back and come away with a silver."

Belfast Telegraph


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