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Lutalo Muhammad: 'Tokyo gold would be crowning moment of my career'

The Olympic Games have been delayed by a year.

Ten years after emerging triumphant from his "martial arts X-factor", Lutalo Muhammad is determined to write another chapter in his remarkable taekwondo career at next year's re-arranged Tokyo Olympics.

Muhammad's top-level odyssey has involved a rise to world number one, a furious selection row prior to the London 2012 Games, and a dramatic final defeat in Rio with just one second left on the clock.

With one year to go to the Games, Muhammad reflected on that remarkable journey which began when he entered GB Taekwondo's 'Fighting Chance' initiative, in which budding martial artists are invited to try out for the elite squad.

Lutalo Muhammad
Lutalo Muhammad was stunned in the last second of his Rio final (Mike Egerton/PA)

Muhammad told the PA news agency: "At the time I was really in a phase when the Olympics was the biggest goal of the my life, coming out of the Beijing Olympics and seeing Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.

"'Fighting Chance' came along and it was definitely one of the seminal moments of my life and career. It got me noticed, it got me into the academy and the rest is history. It was an amazing time – almost like a martial arts 'X Factor'.

"I just have to be very proud of the achievements I've had in my career, and the irony is that the struggle that I've been through has probably made me bigger than I would have been if I'd just gone on and won gold."

London Olympic Games – Day 14
Lutalo Muhammad won bronze on his Olympic debut in London (Steve Parsons/PA)

Muhammad claimed a bronze medal on his Olympic debut at London 2012 despite the build-up being dogged by controversy over his selection in the men's -80kg category over reigning world number one Aaron Cook.

Four years later in Rio, Muhammad looked set to claim gold when he led Cheick Sallah Cisse of the Ivory Coast by two points in the dying stages – only to lose to a three-point spinning head-kick with one second left on the scoreboard.

And another potential test is looming for Muhammad, who has moved up to the men's heavyweight category where he must go head to head with his long-time friend and former world silver medallist Mahama Cho for the single qualifying berth.

Muhammad added: "I always try to extract the positives out of any situation. I've got more time to grow naturally into a new weight division and I just see this whole period as a chance to take things to another level.

"Having that extra year to get even better prepared for what will now be an historic Olympics, as an athlete there is now even more inspiration and motivation to be a part of that history.

"With how my last two Olympics have gone, it would be a perfect chapter in what has already been a very storied career to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

"It doesn't really change my goal or focus. It's really been what my whole career and life has been geared towards, and I believe it will be the crowning moment of my career."

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Adam Peaty poses with his gold medal on July 24, 2019
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Read more about Lutalo Muhammad Taekwondo

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States13141037
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia810725
Great BritainGreat Britain57618
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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