Olympics-Jones to chase third taekwondo gold but Muhammad misses out

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Jones of Britain reacts after winning her women's 57Kg taekwondo gold medal fight against Zaninovic of Croatia at the 1st European Games in Baku
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Jade Jones will fight for a record third taekwondo gold at the Tokyo Olympics but 2016 silver medallist Lutalo Muhammad will not be on the plane to Japan after failing to make the team on Tuesday.

Jones, 28, won gold in London and Rio de Janeiro and was 2019 world champion in the -57kg category. She also retained her European crown in April and can become the first taekwondo fighter to take three golds.

"Nobody's a dead cert, there's going to be tough competition," she said.

"I'm definitely feeling the pressure that I put on myself going into the Olympics, knowing I could make history... I want to win this third gold more than anything."

Muhammad, 29, famously missed out on gold in the -80kg category at Rio in 2016 after taking a kick to the head in the final second while leading.

He also won a bronze at London 2012 after being controversially selected ahead of world number one Aaron Cook.

Mahama Cho, fourth in Rio, will fight in the +80kg category instead.

Performance director Gary Hall said Muhammad, who missed this year's European championships due to injury, would be a reserve.

"He's tried his best to get up the rankings but he's not got high enough to allow us to select him," he told reporters.

"I have no doubt that Lutalo will carry on after these Games and still try and drive for the third medal, which is the gold he wants, in Paris (2024)."

Olympic taekwondo has only four weight categories for each gender and Muhammad was up against Cho for the Tokyo slot after stepping up a division.

Bianca Walkden returns after winning heavyweight +67kg bronze in 2016 while former kickboxer Lauren Williams and 2019 -68kg world champion Bradly Sinden will make their Olympic debuts.

"This is an extremely strong team; a double Olympic champion, an Olympic bronze medallist and a triple world and European champion," said Team GB chef de mission Mark England.

"As we move ever closer to qualifying more female than male athletes for the Games for the first time, it is fantastic to name three very strong and experienced female athletes within this team."

Britain sent four taekwondo athletes to Rio and the five for Tokyo is the most the country has taken to a Games and the first time all qualified on world rankings.

"It's only about gold when we get to this stage," said Hall. "We believe every single one of these athletes is capable of winning an Olympic gold medal."

The Games are due to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)