It’s been quite a week for Bianca Walkden – and just another memorable few days in a monumental year for the double World and European taekwondo champion.
Two days after completing the Grand Slam – having won four Grand Prix titles this year - the 26-year-old was named World Taekwondo Athlete of the Year at a ceremony in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Monday.
Walkden has kicked on from her bronze medal-winning display at Rio 2016 and has established herself as the very best in the world, rewriting history by scooping title after title in 2017.
She succeeds fellow Brit and double Olympic champion Jade Jones as WT Athlete of the Year and admitted the honour was overwhelming.
“I didn’t think I would be this emotional,” said Walkden. “I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and believed in me.”
Walken retained her +73kg World Championship crown in June, overpowering Jackie Galloway of the United States in Muju, South Korea.
Saturday’s win in Ivory Coast, where she defeated South Korea’s Da-Bin Lee in the final, followed Grand Prix triumphs in Moscow, Rabat and London.
GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall hailed Walkden’s historic achievements and insisted more was to come from the Liverpudlian, with Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 very much in her sights.
“Bianca has enjoyed an outstanding year,” said Hall.
“It’s been an incredible challenge because no one else in history before had managed what she has achieved.
“To maintain such a high standard is credit to her and her professionalism.
“It would have been easy for ‘B’ to feel sorry for herself [after winning bronze in Rio].
“But she has switched up and keeps setting new targets. She wants to win a third successive world title in 2019 which no one has done before.
“And then she wants to go to Tokyo 2020 and win that Olympic gold medal.”