- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Bianca Walkden thinks the Olympic Games can provide the perfect tonic to unify the nation this summer as she prepares to go for gold in Tokyo, writes Paul Martin.
The taekwondo star enters the Games as the reigning heavyweight world champion and is bidding to build on the bronze she took home from Rio in 2016.
Lockdown restrictions are due to be lifted in the UK just over a month before the flame is lit inside the Olympic Stadium and the 29-year-old reckons the strength of support from back home can make up for a lack of travelling fans.
“Knowing we have home support behind us is unbelievable,” said Walkden, who is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo.
“We saw how everyone watched the World Cup in the summer of 2018 and it was fantastic.
“Hopefully everyone will be allowed out to get behind us in the beer gardens and across the country to have that atmosphere again - and hopefully they’ll be watching me win gold.”
As well as providing world-class sporting action to watch, the Games could also prove a timely boost to participation.
Grassroots clubs across the country will be looking to attract new faces as well as those returning to sport following an enforced spell on the sidelines and Walkden believes a summer of Olympic success will provide ample inspiration.
“I hope it can remind people how special sport is,” she said.
“It might give them an opportunity to try something new – you don’t have to be great at it, you just have to enjoy it.
“If I can get anyone to watch taekwondo and have a go, I’ll be made up.
“I didn’t know taekwondo was in the Olympics when I was younger, I just started it for a bit of fun. But when I found out it was, it was even more motivation to earn that opportunity.
“Watching people’s dreams come true and showing those moments of athletes going through sacrifices to live their dream for their country will inspire anyone.”
April’s European Championships in Sofia will provide a valuable stepping stone for the world number one, who hopes to ‘brush off the cobwebs’ in Bulgaria before attentions turn to completing her set of gold medals.
“A lot of people crack with how big the Olympics is but you have to remember the basics and skills that got you there,” she said. “They’re the things that will help you achieve the real goal.
“I’ve done so well in my career and this is the last thing to tick off. Hopefully I can do that this summer.”
Bianca Walkden is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK. To enter the draw to receive one of 2,020 limited edition prints, visit https://page.purplebricks.co.uk/teamgb_homesupport/