Muhammad hopes perseverance pays off

04 August 2012 / 15:10

British Taekwondo fighter Lutalo Muhammad will use the indomitable spirit encouraged by his father as inspiration to become Olympic champion at ExCeL next week.

The 21-year-old grew up in Walthamstow, east London, just a few miles from the Olympic Park and was introduced to the Korean martial art at an early age by his father Wayne, setting him on a path towards potentially cementing a place in British sporting folklore.

"My dad has been teaching me since I was three, so I probably did not have much choice. I am very grateful for all that, he put a lot of hard work into me," Muhammad told Press Association Sport.

Father Wayne runs a taekwondo club in Hackney.

"He always told me to persevere, keep going and have an indomitable spirit," Muhammad said.

"There are always going to be up and downs in any athlete's career, but having him there as a strong role model helped me get through.

"If you ask any athlete, they will tell you they have had to make sacrifices. For me, this is what it is all about, it is a home Olympics and all those sacrifices that others like my parents have made for me will be for these Games."

Muhammad added: "I remember when it was announced that London would host the Olympics, I was very excited and my dad was like, 'You could do that'.

"Now I am here, it is a wonderful opportunity I am determined to take."

Muhammad insists he will not feel the glare of the anticipated media spotlight next week.

"The only extra pressures on me will be what I put on myself," he said.

"I feel I have the potential to be on top of the podium. The training camp has been going very well, I feel like I am moving forwards."

The Londoner added: "I feel in the shape of my life. People will have to wait and see, but they will see something exciting, something special."

Great Britain performance director Gary Hall has kept his squad away from the "mayhem" of the Athletes' Village for as long as possible.

They trained in the familiar surroundings of Manchester ahead of disembarking to the Loughborough holding camp, then will travel on to London just ahead of the start of competition on Wednesday.

Muhammad said: "The mood in the camp is fantastic, it has always been upbeat and very positive. I draw a lot of confidence from the other members of the team and it is a really good atmosphere."