Taekwondo: Team GB's Sarah Stevenson ready for the challenge


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The Independent Online

Sarah Stevenson is relaxed and focused as her taekwondo challenge begins tomorrow. The world champion at welterweight, she begins her campaign in the -67kg division this morning, ready for whoever the draw pits her against.

“I never look at the draw,” Stevenson revealed. “I just say to [coach] Steve [Jennings] 'tell me who I am fighting, tell me a few bits and bobs about them'. I don't really care about rankings, because all of the fights are going to be hard, it is an Olympic Games, so you can’t take anything for granted.”

"Ninety per cent of the girls I will be up against I have probably never fought, so I don't have to worry about them because I don't know them - and they don't really know me because I have not fought for more than a year, so I see it is a bonus."

Stevenson could face world number one Seham Elsawalhy of Egypt in the semi-finals. But that would be little worry to her. Stevenson won bronze in the +67kg division in Beijing, and a subsequent MBE, before triumphing in the European and World championships in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

But last year Stevenson, who was chosen to read the competitors’ oath at the opening ceremony two weeks ago, also had to cope with the traumatic loss of both her parents from illness, and this is her first major competition since.

Stevenson starts against American Paige McPherson at 10.30am, before possible quarter and semi-finals, with a gold medal-final scheduled for 10.30pm.