Walkden supports injured Stevenson

20 April 2012 / 13:49

Bianca Walkden knows what heartache Sarah Stevenson is facing as she battles to be fit for London 2012, but has to remain focused on delivering her own Olympic dream by making the Team GB taekwondo squad.

Like world champion Stevenson, the 20-year-old Liverpudlian suffered a serious knee injury just months before a major competition, but fought her way back to take part at the 2011 World Championships in Korea. But her weight category was not pre-selected for the four-strong Olympic squad for London.

However, Beijing bronze medallist Stevenson's fitness worries following cruciate ligament damage sustained at a training camp in Mexico and an operation in February, have opened an unexpected opportunity for Walkden.

The GB Academy fighter is set to drop down a weight and compete in under-67kgs at the upcoming European Championships in Manchester, where she had claimed the 2011 British Open title at over-73kgs.

Walkden said: "Last year was heartbreaking, when I got injured and had to have an operation. I had to fight at the World Championships in May, so to get back from an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] operation in just three months when it is supposed to take a year, I would not advise anyone to do that.

"I gave everything because I was so determined, but at the end of the day, I was not ready and that was probably what made me lose my [Olympic weight] spot, because I did not do that well on that day at the World Championships."

Walkden added: "I know what it must be like for Sarah, because I had to go through it for the World Championships, mine was so intense. She has just said 'whatever happens, we will all support each other' and that is what we are going to do because we are all a team and will all support that team."

The likes of world bronze medallist Martin Stamper, German Open winner Damon Sansum, and Welsh teenager Jade Jones will all also be in action at Sportcity from May 3-6, along with Dutch Open champion Aaron Cook, who has been training outside the GB Academy fold.

GB Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall must then decide upon his final Olympic squad, which will be made up at the nominated weights of under-68kgs and under-80kgs for men, with under-57kgs and under-67kgs for women.

Walkden, who started taekwondo aged 11, added: "It is going to be massive - we have '2012' all over the gym. For those who are there, it will change their lives, so obviously everyone wants it, to make it happen."