To succeed in female sparring you have to be tough!
Sarah Stevenson tells us how she made it to the top in taekwondo.
Sarah Stevenson is an inspirational taekwondo athlete.
She has battled injury and setbacks to reach amazing heights in female sparring.
Her bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics is the pinnacle of her career so far.
We caught up with Sarah and asked her what it takes to get to the top in taekwondo sparring.
How old were you when you started training in taekwondo?
I was 7 when I started Taekwondo.
My brother was already doing it and when I was old enough I started to join in.
Taekwondo wasn't very popular back then so what made you choose it?
Taekwondo was a big sport in Doncaster at the time when I started and it has also been a part of my family for a long time. So it was only natural for me to start.
How did your training affect your life in those early days?
It's hard to juggle school work and going out with friends and also training.
For me it was hard to explain to my friends at a young age that I couldn't always hang out with them because I had training or a competition.
When I look back I'm so glad that I put my sport first before going out with friends. I've had so many opportunities that I would never have had if I didn't do Taekwondo.
At what stage in your journey did you start competing in female sparring?
I was 10 when I started fighting, and my first international was when I was 11. I was the kind of girl that could be pushed and thankfully it worked.
What is the best moment in your career and why?
My best moment I would say would winning the world championships in 2001 when I was only 18. I was and still am the first person to do that and it was a great stepping stone for me and our sport.
Obviously you have reached amazing heights in taekwondo and this must have meant huge personal sacrifices. Can you give us an outline of your weekly training schedule so we can get an idea of how committed you need to be to make it to the Olympics?
I train 2 times per day on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and once on Wednesday and Saturday, each session for about 2 hours. I do taekwondo, fitness and strength and conditioning.
You must have had a lot of help from others. Who are the important people in your life who have made it possible for you to get to where you are now?
The most important person that made the taekwondo person I am today has got to be my Coach in Doncaster, Gary Sykes. He keeps me grounded and always pushes me to be the best.
Also my Dad, who worked so hard to help me raise money to get to competitions when I was younger. We used to do all sorts of things, car boot sales, sponsored walks etc.
What's the best piece of advice you can give to taekwondo students starting out on their journey?
I would say to always think ahead. Is going out with friends more important then training?
Or can you do that anytime when you get older?
Whatever you do. Don't talk about it.
Just do it.
And give 100%.