LONDON 2012: World-class Stevenson to lead British taekwondo team
SARAH Stevenson will lead a 'world-class' British taekwondo team at the London 2012 Olympics, according to coach Gary Hall.
MEDAL HOPE: Sarah Stevenson, a world champion in 2011, will look to upgrade her Beijing bronze at London 2012 (Getty Images)
Stevenson, who won the world middleweight title last year, is still battling to overcome a recent cruciate ligament injury but Hall insisted there was never a doubt about her selection.
She will be joined on the team by two more world medallists - women's lightweight Jade Jones, who also won gold at the first-ever Youth Olympic Games, and Martin Stamper, who saw off the challenge of close friend Michael Harvey to earn the spot in the men's lightweight.
And the team could still be added to after the British Olympic Association ordered British Taekwondo officials to revisit their decision not to nominate two-time European champion and world number one Aaron Cook in the men's welterweight.
"We have committed to be the best prepared team at London 2012 and we are still on track to do that," said Hall.
"No one can guarantee results but these guys will be ready to perform and there will have been no stone left unturned in the pursuit of excellence for these Olympic Games.
“Sarah is simply world class in every department. Her pedigree is unquestionable she will be a significant threat in London. She is the queen of taekwondo in Britain and has been for many years. There is no accolade I could push her way that would do her justice.
“Jade has done a superb job. She didn't get the results she wanted at the European Championships recently but still picked up a bronze and she has medalled in everything else. She is the current Youth Olympic Champion and in London she will be going for the Olympic senior title.
"Martin has had some great results over the last year and started to hit form with his bronze at the European Championships. He has been very professional for a number of years now and the fruits of that are coming out.
"He has taken all the scalps, but more importantly he has progressed as an athlete, and I know he will do everything in his power to maximise his opportunity in London."
London will be Stevenson's fourth Olympic appearance and she is determined to upgrade the controversial bronze medal she won in Beijing four years ago.
And they'd be few more popular winners than the 29-year old, who tragically lost both her parents to cancer since winning her second world title last year.
"If I win gold that will top everything I have ever achieved," she said.
"But that might not happen because that's the way sport is. Just because you are the best doesn't mean you are going to win, but of course I will try like mad to win gold.”
Jones, 19, a silver medallist at last year's World Championship, claims it was watching Stevenson in Beijing that inspired her to commit herself to the sport.
"I remember thinking I wanted to be there and part of it. Now I will be, and that’s an incredible feeling for me," she said.
"I try and imagine what it's going to be like when I go out for my first fight, but I don’t think I can. I just can't wait for it to begin now.
"I'm buzzing. I had a big disappointment at the European Championships but I have things to work on now and make sure I am 100 percent right for the Olympics."
And Stamper admitted relief that his place was finally confirmed, after a tough selection battle with Harvey, who also won a medal at last year's Worlds.
“If I fight my own game and fight to the best of my potential then I can achieve anything," he said.
"I don't want to put pressure on myself but I could get gold if I have four fights at my best and things go my way. It could happen."
© Sportsbeat 2012