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Mahama Cho wants to follow in the footsteps of Tom Daley and bounce back from Olympic heartache to eventually win gold, writes Charlie Bennett in Tokyo.
The Gravesend taekwondo athlete suffered an agonising first-round defeat on a golden point score to China’s Sun Hongyi in Tokyo, adding to the pain of coming fourth at Rio 2016.
But the 31-year-old is taking inspiration from diving superstar Daley, who won his first Olympic gold on Monday at his fourth Games.
“Tom Daley is a perfect example,” he said.
“This was his fourth Olympics and he finally got that gold medal. It goes to show, if you keep pushing it can happen. It does hurt, but it is all about progress and what can you do better. It is all about progress.
“If you are not mentally strong enough you won’t be able to accept these kinds of circumstances.
“I am prepared for whatever comes. When your plan doesn’t work, you don’t give up, you keep working. I am going to keep on pushing through and see what Paris looks like.”
Cho made a fast start to his match with Hongyi, finishing the first round 4-2 up courtesy of one body shot and a punch.
But, in a low-scoring contest, Hongyi fought back in the second round and levelled it at 4-4 going into the decider.
Neither player could score a decisive point, taking it to a golden score and Hongyi delivered with a body shot to win.
“I'll have to watch it again, but after the second round the team gave me instructions that I needed to win the last one, and I came out and I pushed it all the way,” added Cho, who is able to train full-time and benefit from world class facilities, technology, coaching and support teams thanks to National Lottery funding – which has never been more important in getting her to the start line after a turbulent year.
“What I think doesn't really matter but it is what it is, and I've just got to deal with it.
"My journey has had ups and downs, and whenever I've dropped down I always bounce back higher, so as disappointing as it is I've just got to accept that it's reality.
“You've got to live in reality. You can't sit there dreaming, so I'll just carry on, that's it.”
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