LAUREN Williams’ stunning gold medal at the Taekwondo World Grand Prix has marked her out as Gwent sport’s top prospect.

The 18-year-old from Blackwood defeated world champion Ruth Gbagbi in the -67kg final on Friday to secure her first major senior title.

Her success has been hailed by two-time Olympic champion Jade Jones, who described Williams as “a top fighter” and “definitely one to watch in the future.”

Jones, who also won gold at London’s CopperBox Arena at the weekend, added: “Lauren’s already beating some of the best out there and is going to continue improving and be one of the greatest fighters in her division.”

Williams’ switched from kickboxing to taekwondo five years ago having been inspired by Jones’ gold medal performance at London 2012.

And the teenager’s rapid rise means she has to be considered a medal prospect for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Williams could even become Gwent’s first Olympic champion since Chepstow equestrian star Richard Meade, who won three golds at Mexico 1968 and Munich 1972.

And, while she is still a relative novice, the two-time junior world champion and senior European gold medallist is not afraid to admit that her ambition is to triumph on the sport’s grandest stage.

“My main ambition to be Olympic champion and hopefully do it with Jade in 2020,” said Williams.

“But I've watched some of the fights back through and picked up loads of mistakes – so although I won a gold medal I can still improve a lot.”

Having interviewed her before last week’s success, Williams came across as a very mature 18-year-old.

She’s already suffered what to her was a major disappointment after bowing out at the quarter-final stage of her first senior world championships back in June.

But she’s bounced back in style since then and certainly has the temperament and the talent to make it to the top of her sport.

And we are not short of future stars in this little corner of Wales.

Sticking to one name per sport and in no particular order, here's the rest of my top 10 stars of tomorrow in Gwent. 

South Wales Argus:

Maisie Methuen, aged 16, gymnastics

Pontypool’s Methuen has just completed her GCSEs but she is already taking British gymnastics by storm.

In her first season on the senior circuit, she beat Rio 2016 Olympian and Strictly Come Dancing star Claudia Fragapane to floor gold at the British Championships.

And Methuen (above) is now targeting a medal for Wales at next year’s Commonwealth Games.

“The Commonwealths are a big competition for Wales and to go there with my country would be crazy,” said the Phoenix Gymnastics Club member.

“If my training goes well hopefully I could come away with a medal and our team could come away with a medal.”

Thea Rogers, aged 15, archery

Rogers is even younger than Methuen and, after being inspired to take up archery by watching The Lord of the Rings as a 10-year-old, she won gold for Great Britain at the European Youth Cup in Croatia this summer.

Lewis Collins, aged 16, football

The Newport County AFC academy is packed with talented youngsters and Collins is following in the footsteps of his older brother Aaron, who is now with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Newport-born midfielder has recently broken into the Wales under-17s team and could well emulate Aaron in graduating to the Exiles first team and beyond.

Ffion James, aged 19, cycling

Abergavenny’s James is another youngster with a lot to live up to after her siblings’ success.

The 19-year-old younger sister of world champion and Olympic silver medallist Becky and para-cycling world champ Rachel, is forging her own path as a cyclo-cross rider and targeting a medal at February’s world championships.

South Wales Argus:

Jackson Page, aged 16, snooker

Page burst onto the snooker scene back in February when he took time off school to make it to the third round of the Welsh Open aged just 15.

The Ebbw Vale potter (above) is the under-18 world and European champion and he’s been tipped for the top by none other than Cwm’s two-time world champ Mark Williams.

Leon Brown, aged 20, rugby union

Wales under-20 international Brown has already made seven appearances for the Dragons and the Newport native was selected for the senior Wales training squad ahead of the 2016 autumn international series.

This morning the tighthead from Maesglas was one of five uncapped players named in Warren Gatland's squad for the forthcoming autumn internationals.

Rory Collingbourne, aged 20, motor racing

Newport’s Collingbourne has been making a name for himself in the ultra-competitive world of motor racing for some time already.

And the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Asia driver remains one of the country’s best prospects on four wheels.

South Wales Argus:

Macey Jones, aged 16, athletics

Cwmbran Harriers athlete Jones is making her mark in the triple jump and long jump, claiming a silver in the former at the Welsh Championships in 2017.

The Pontypool teenager (above) is another one who is setting her sights high, telling the Argus is June: “What’s the point in doing all this training if you don’t want to go to the Commonwealth Games or Olympics?”

Jack Davidson, aged 20, golf

The Llanwern youngster’s Walker Cup debut did not go to plan last month as Great Britain and Ireland were crushed 19-7 by the United States at Los Angeles Country Club.

But Davidson is Welsh Amateur Champion and could just be Bradley Dredge’s successor as Gwent’s top golfer.