Jones breaking new Olympic ground on National Taekwondo Day can inspire next generation of talent, reckons Beijing medallist Stevenson

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Stevenson ascended the Beijing podium in 2008 and is backing National Taekwondo Day to inspire thousands of young girls to follow in her footsteps
Stevenson ascended the Beijing podium in 2008 and is backing National Taekwondo Day to inspire thousands of young girls to follow in her footsteps

Jade Jones stepping one foot deeper into the pantheon of British Olympic greats on July 25 can kick-start a golden new era for taekwondo.

And becoming the first British woman to claim a hat-trick of Olympic gold medals on National Taekwondo Day is the perfect way to capture the imagination of sport-hungry children far and wide.

That’s according to President of British Taekwondo and World Taekwondo Council Member Sarah Stevenson, who’s lived and breathed taekwondo since the age of seven and couldn’t be more passionate about preaching its benefits. 

This summer represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for taekwondo as Jones, Bianca Walkden, Lauren Williams, Mahama Cho and Bradly Sinden all fly the Team GB flag in Tokyo.

And National Taekwondo Day bids to capitalise on that platform as the sport penetrates TV screens and living rooms up and down the country.

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Clubs nationwide will throw open their doors to promote taekwondo’s benefits and Stevenson, a 2008 Beijing bronze medallist, reckons doing so on the same day as Jones’ shot at history could not be better timing.

The 38-year-old, who is also a two-time world and four-time European champion, said: “This is such a great opportunity and idea – I’m so proud of British Taekwondo for this initiative and it will put our sport in the forefront of people’s minds.

“Kids will be able to watch Jade compete on the same day – it will bring everyone together and be a great day to embrace how strong our sport can be.

“Getting down to your local club on July 25 is the best way to see the sport at such an exciting time. Get down there, give it a go and I guarantee that you’ll come away with a smile and absolutely love it.

“I 100 per cent back [Jade] to get a gold. I think the whole team could go out there and get a medal – they’re so incredibly talented and I think this is the best Olympic team we’ve ever had.

“For Jade to get that third gold medal would be an absolute dream come true, and would also propel the sport upwards even more.

“Our team can raise the profile of taekwondo this summer – we could definitely be on the cusp of a golden summer.

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“Taekwondo has never been so high-profile – we’ve got so many potential medallists and it could be the time that tips us over the edge to make us one of the mainstream sports.”

Taekwondo will hit the British airwaves this summer and July 25 marks the perfect opportunity to give the sport a go.

National Taekwondo Day is so more than just a chance for taekwondo clubs to open their doors – instead a broader opportunity to get the sport’s benefits out there and spread the taekwondo message in society.

Clubs can get involved by hosting open days or even Olympic watching parties, while demonstrations, taster sessions and the ping of social media will also help further its appeal as Tokyo fever kicks in.

Taekwondo’s benefits including promoting both physical and mental fortitude, enhancing self-esteem and respect as well as notions of anti-bullying and self-discipline.

Coordination and social skills are also front and centre and grateful Stevenson, who starred at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, added: “Taekwondo is so special because it gave me an opportunity to be the person I was scared to be growing up.

“I was really, really shy and didn’t really talk about it – but when I went into the taekwondo gym, I wasn’t shy and was the person I should be.

“It gave me that opportunity to be a little bit more outgoing. That’s the amazing thing about taekwondo – it made me more confident outside my taekwondo club. I dread to think how I’d be without it.

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“It’s the best sport to do – get your kids involved from a young age, get them down there on July 25, watch our Olympic athletes compete and have the best day.”

The nation will ride the crest of a taekwondo wave this summer as Jones, Bradly Sinden (both fighting on 25 July) Lauren Williams (26 July), Mahama Cho and Bianca Walkden (27 July) duel it out with the global elite on the highest sporting stage.

Stevenson ascended the Beijing podium 13 years ago and now believes success in Japan can catapult the sport on a firmly upwards trajectory.

She said: “I’m so excited for the future of taekwondo.

“Our five incredible athletes representing GB in Tokyo will help to push taekwondo even further into one of the mainstream sports.

“It will just be incredible to see taekwondo grow and hopefully see more Jades, Biancas coming through to represent us at the Olympics.”

Join British Taekwondo as we eagerly watch and stand by to celebrate our Olympic and Paralympic heroes and encourage the nation to #ReleaseYourInnerChampion! To find your local club visit: https://www.britishtaekwondo.org.uk/try-taekwondo/

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