Sarah Stevenson article by Fresh Outlook
After a difficult year, Sarah Stevenson wins Sportswoman of the Year award, setting her sights on the 2012 London Olympics.
Doncaster’s welterweight world champion Sarah Stevenson was recognised by the Sunday Times on Wednesday at their Sportswoman of the Year 2011 Awards.
Her emotional win at the Taekwondo World Championships in May saw her take home a gold medal, despite almost a years break from the sport whilst she cared for both her parents, who at the time were suffering from critical illnesses.
Adrian Tranter, chairman of the British Taekwondo Control Board, described Stevenson as “the Queen of Taekwondo”. He told The Fresh Outlook: “For any sportswoman to become World Champion twice is a tremendous achievement, but to do it 10 years after the first time is truly remarkable. Then when you understand that all of this happened at a time when both her parents … were undergoing treatment and she could have lost them at any time, then to do it half way around the world meaning several weeks away from those that you want to be with above all else, it all starts to explain just how truly remarkable Sarah is.”
After the win in Korea she told BBC Sport: “I think of all my successes this is the one that means the most because it’s been such a tough build-up, but what I’ve been through is nothing compared to my parents.
“Fighting in a [world championships competition] is not suffering, it’s not life and death like cancer is, and that’s what gave me the motivation. I hope that’s the motivation I’ll have when it comes to next year at the Olympics.”
Her mother Dianne was diagnosed with cancer in January this year and died in October; just three months after Stevenson’s father had passed away from a brain tumour.
On Wednesday Stevenson spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live about her strength despite a traumatic year: “If they could cope, I can put up a fight like they did, so maybe it’s them. They were so strong.”
Instead of fighting at The French Open this weekend, Stevenson will begin her Olympic campaign for gold in the New Year.
“Since the worlds I’ve forgotten what it’s been like to be an athlete,” she said to BBC sport, “but at the same time I’m seeing 2012 logos everywhere. I think, ‘God, I’d better get training again …’ But how can I really focus on that? I just want to get to January 2012 so I can leave 2011 behind.”
By Michelle Davies
[Image courtesy of The Women’s Sport & Fitness Foundation]