Stevenson: I gave it my best shot

10 August 2012 / 12:29

Sarah Stevenson has experienced far greater pain in the last 18 months so there were "no regrets" for the British taekwondo fighter after she suffered a first-round defeat in the women's under-67kg at ExCeL.

American Paige McPherson had not read the script as she silenced a partisan crowd at the venue where Welsh teenager Jade Jones was roared on to gold in the under-57kg Olympic class. Stevenson's 5-1 loss, largely down to an early head shot by the United States fighter, means she cannot now better the bronze won so dramatically in Beijing.

She could yet fight again through the repechage if McPherson, ranked 19th in the world, goes on to reach the final.

Whatever happens, Stevenson has known far tougher times in her personal life since last year. She was able to deliver 2011 World Championship gold while her parents were battling terminal illness - both her mother and father died last year. She then had to overcome a serious knee injury this year to prove her fitness for the Games.

"I went out there 100% focused, I wanted it, but the last year has helped put this event into perspective. This is the Olympics, it is supposed to be fun - this is not life and death," said Stevenson, 29, who was given the honour of reading the athletes' oath at the Games opening ceremony.

"This is the Olympics and we should be able to have fun and go for it and that is what I did. Maybe I wasn't as good as I was before everything happened to me, but I did do my best under the circumstances. I have got no regrets. I think I did my best and I am happy with how I performed.

"I didn't know how I was going to be, neither did anyone else, the thing was to come here and do my best and I did."

Stevenson, who is coached by her husband Steve Jennings, paid tribute to the "amazing" home crowd. She said: "I had about 20 people here from Doncaster, they have all got their flags and their T-shirts and they know that if I lost first out or if I won they were proud of me no matter what and that's the most important thing at this competition."

Stevenson, however, accepted it was always going to be a battle to return to the sort of form which took her to a second world title last year.

"My knee is as good as it can be," she said.

"Whether this would have been the same outcome 18 months ago, maybe not because I would have been 100% fit, not 99% fit. I wouldn't have had to mentally fight every single day for the last 18 months, I would just have been able to focus on taekwondo. Obviously that has not been the case, but there are more important things."