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Jade Jones, Bianca Walkden set for training return as Manchester base reopens

GB Taekwondo is set to reopen its Manchester training base from next Tuesday.

Taekwondo world champions Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden will be among the first Team GB Olympians to return to training next week.

GB Taekwondo is set to reopen its Manchester training base from next Tuesday to around three-quarters of its elite athletes, following the government's easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

They will be supported by a skeleton staff at the venue, and will be restricted to individual programmes unless – like Jones and Walkden – they are members of the same household.

Jade Jones
Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden can resume official sparring next week (Martin Rickett/PA)

GB Taekwondo chief executive Matt Archibald told the PA news agency: "The athletes have been pushing to get back into training because they like the environment and they are such hard trainers.

"We're in a positive position and no-one seems to be raising any barriers to re-starting – there are just processes that are ongoing but they're getting knocked over one by one.

"We're confident that we are going to get three-quarters of the squad back in phase one."

TeamGB Olympic Taekwondo Team Announcement – National Taekwondo Centre
GB Taekwondo's training base will reopen next week (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Strict rules mean the athletes – expected to number around 18 – will attend the venue in small groups, and must undergo risk-assessments and antibody tests before returning.

The coaches and staff designated to each group will wear personal protective equipment, and access routes have been simplified to minimise contact. All but essential support staff will continue to work remotely.

Many other Olympic sports, in particular those which are based at multi-sport venues such as Loughborough University and the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield, remain some weeks from a return.

Anthony Joshua Media Session – English institute of Sport
The English Institute of Sport remains closed to elite athletes (Dave Thompson/PA)

The EIS, which houses, among others, the elite boxing and para-table tennis programmes, said this week there is still "plenty of work to be done" prior to enabling access for its elite programmes.

In a statement, the EIS said: "We welcome the publication of this guidance and the hard work of the experts from across Olympic, Paralympic and professional sport in producing it, but we are conscious there is plenty of work to be done before we can be confident that training environments are suitable for our people, as well as athletes and support staff."

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Jade Jones in action for Team GB at the Rio Olympics on August 19, 2016
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States16171144
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia10141034
Great BritainGreat Britain89926
Today's Olympic highlights header

Saturday's key events

· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
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