Inside Lines: Brave battle of GB Olympic star Sarah who lives for kicks

Sarah Stevenson, who won Britain's first Olympic taekwondo medal in Beijing, is facing an emotional personal battle as she prepares for next month's World Championships in Beijing, one she says has changed her outlook on life.

In January, her mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, then her father suddenly fell ill, and underwent a brain operation last week. Consequently, she has had to miss a number of major competitions, while travelling between her Manchester base and the family home in Doncaster has severely affected her training.

"I've had to put my family first in what has been the worst time of my life," she tells me.

"It has been really tough but it has taught me valuable lessons. Everything else is meaningless when you are faced with life and death."

Bronze medallist Stevenson, 28, a three-time Olympian, was involved in one of Beijing's great dramas when her controversial quarter-final defeat against the Chinese Olympic champion was overturned, and she faced a hostile reception in a semi-final fought with a damaged ankle. "But all that stuff is nothing to what I am going through now. Fortunately mum is making some progress after intensive chemo and we are awaiting the results of dad's operation."

Last November, Stevenson married GB coach Steve Jennings in Mexico. "Both mum and dad were there and were happy and healthy. This is the sort of thing you believe would never happen to you, but they are both my inspiration, now more than ever. They have urged me to go to the worlds and then to 2012. I still feel I am good enough to win in London. I hope to God they can be there to watch. That would mean more than even a gold medal."

Coe on his honour

Dave Bedford, who has organised the London Marathon brilliantly for more than 20 years, steps down after today's event.

Bedford, interviwed by The Independent on Sunday today, has never been given a gong. Ironically, if that odd omission is to be rectified, it will be up to someone with whom he recently fell out. The new chairman of the Sports Honours Committee is the 2012 supremo Sebastian Coe, who succeeds ex-England and Wales Cricket Board chief Lord MacLaurin.

Bedford wasn't exactly complimentary about Coe's alleged lack of support when quitting his role with next year's Olympic marathon, though I hear the good lord, not one to bear grudges, hasn't taken offence.

Perhaps it will be Bootsie MBE in the Birthday Honours.

Cheeky move by Jowell

The recent spat between the warring lords of the Olympic rings, Coe and Moynihan, may not be the only schism on the 2012 board.

The cross-party alliance is about to be tested as Labour's shadow Olympics minister Tessa Jowell and Boris Johnson will be squaring up on the hustings; she is running the campaign for Ken Livingstone when he attempts to regain the mayoral seat next May, a couple of months before the Games.

"I hope there'll be no hard feelings," she says. "But this is politics." Isn't it always?

Abberley takes aim

Taking on the wily Dr C K Wu, president of international governing body AIBA, is the tricky task facing Mark Abberley, freshly appointed chief executive of the English ABA, following the vindictive ban on GB Olympic coach Rob McCracken because he also trains pros.

While Abberley has no experience of boxing's political in-fighting, at least his background as chairman of the Archery GB Performance Group should prepare him for the slings and arrows of the sport's outrageous fortune.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?