London Spy

British medal hopes: Sarah Stevenson (taekwondo)

London Spy

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Stevenson with Beijing bronze

It is testament to Sarah Stevenson's character that, amidst a horrific year of personal loss, she was able to claim gold at the 2011 World Taekwondo Championships in South Korea.

Both of Stevenson's parents were diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses just weeks before her triumph in the welterweight division at the world championships in May. In October, Stevenson's mother passed away, just three months after her father died.

She has made no secret of her desire to win gold at the Olympics in memory of her parents, and the top of the podium is within the reach of the Doncaster talent, who will be 29 by the start of London 2012.

Stevenson's 2011 world championships success came a decade on from her only previous gold medal at the event — in the middleweight division in 2001.

She won the first of her three gold medals at the European championships in 1998, with two further middleweight titles coming in 2005 and 2006. Stevenson also grabbed a gold medal at the 2006 Commonwealth taekwondo championships.

She switched down a weight division to pick up a welterweight bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A European championships welterweight title in 2010 preceded her world championships title last year.

Stevenson's inspirational display in South Korea earned her the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year award for 2011 and she was awarded an MBE in the 2012 New Year's Honours.

However, knee ligament surgery in February 2012 presented another challenge. Stevenson insists she will be fully fit by the start of London 2012, though, and she is determined to make her mark at her fourth Olympics.

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