China's Zheng Shuyin accused of 'disrespect' after reaction to controversial world final defeat to Bianca Walkden

Mark Staniforth
Zheng (left) was disqualified while holding a 10-point lead midway through the final round - Getty Images Europe

Gary Hall, the Great Britain performance director, has accused Chinese taekwondo athlete Zheng Shuyin of “disrespect” over the histrionics which followed her controversial defeat to Bianca Walkden in Friday night’s world final.

Zheng dropped to her knees both in the ring and on the podium after losing the women’s 73kg final by disqualification despite holding a 10-point lead midway through the final round.

Guan Jianmin, the Chinese head coach, told state news agency Xinhua the result was “a scandal” and “very dirty”, adding: “I have been doing this sport for 16 years but this is the first time I realised taekwondo can be played like this.”

Under the sport’s rules, a player who amasses 10 gamjons, or penalties, during a match is automatically thrown out. Facing defeat and with Zheng having already reached seven penalty counts, Walkden adopted legitimate tactics to force further errors.

Hall said: “They (the Chinese) have no right to be offended – in fact, Britain should be more offended for the disrespectful manner in which the Chinese athlete took her medal.

Zheng dropped to her knees both in the ring and on the podium Credit: GETTY IMAGES

“Bianca won that match fair and square. The rules state that you have to fight until the very end and Bianca did so using right and proper rules.”

Walkden’s historic achievement in becoming Britain’s first three-time world champion was overshadowed by Zheng’s emotional protest and boos cascading down from the Manchester Arena crowd.

But Walkden defiantly insisted she would have no hesitation of doing the same thing again, while Hall questioned Zheng’s tactics after she had amassed her seemingly unassailable lead.

Hall said: “The rule is there to encourage fighters to fight. Previously it would have been advantageous to get 10 points in the lead then stand there and do nothing. This rule is intended to make fights more exciting.”

Walkden’s completed an historic achievement in becoming Britain’s first three-time world champion Credit: GETTY IMAGES

It is not the first controversy involving British and Chinese taekwondo athletes. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Sarah Stevenson’s defeat to home favourite Chen Zhong was overturned on appeal and the Doncaster athlete was booed throughout the tournament as she went on to win a bronze medal.

Sunday sees Lutalo Muhammad chase a first world title after moving up to the 87kg category. The 27-year-old won Olympic 80kg bronze and silver in 2012 and 2016 – the latter coming after he was dramatically beaten to gold in the dying seconds – but has chosen to move up after no longer being able to make the weight.

It means he has to challenge friend and team-mate Mahama Cho if he wants to secure an Olympic place for Tokyo next year. But he remains unfazed by the step up, pointing to boxers like Sugar Ray Robinson who moved up a weight to great effect.

“If you truly believe you’re the best fighter in the world, like I do, weight divisions are not a restriction,” he said. “The last three Olympic champions have been middleweights who moved up to heavyweight.