SETBACK FOR WORLD CHAMPION BUT STEVENSON INSISTS KNEE INJURY IS JUST A BLIP
WORLD champion Sarah Stevenson underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair cruciate ligament damage, sustained at a recent training camp in Mexico but describes her 2012 Games scare as "just a blip."
Stevenson, 28, has until the end of May to prove her fitness when GB selectors will nominate their four strong Olympic squad.
But she will miss the forthcoming Dutch and German Opens and almost certainly the European Championships in Manchester from May 3-6.
However, positive Stevenson remains optimistic of making it to the capital.
"I feel that this is just a blip in my preparation for London 2012," said the 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medallist.
"I’ve been through worse and I can get through this.
"I’m strong mentally and physically and this is only going to make me more determined.
"And with all the support from the best medical staff at GB Taekwondo and the EIS, I’m determined to be at the Olympics.”
Stevenson suffered her injury during a training session in Mexico City. She immediately flew home for assessment accompanied by coach and husband, Steve Jennings and Great Britain Performance Director, Gary Hall.
After winning the 2011 World Championships in Korea she was voted Sunday Times Sports Woman of the Year and also received the MBE in the New Year honours list. Indeed, Stevenson is due to collect her award at Buckingham Palace later this month.
However, Hall and the GB selectors are now potentially faced with an difficult selection decision as they try to deliver an Olympic gold.
Bianca Walkden, the former world number two from Liverpool but currently competing at +73kg, is looked upon as Stevenson's understudy.
"We will be supporting every single girl who is in contention within the -67kg weight category to make sure they are best prepared for the task," said Hall.
"The decision will go to the best person to do the job as there is an open selection procedure."
And Hall says no early decision will be taken.
"If anyone can return from this then Sarah can. She is a consummate professional and will be doing everything in her power to show the selectors she is the girl for the job
"Sarah has suffered some extremely bad luck at a very important time in what she hoped was a re-building for 2012, with Olympic gold her target.
"She was doing extremely well in Mexico but in an innocuous move twisted her knee in the wrong way.
"This has resulted in pretty serious damage to the knee.
"However, we believe Sarah will make it back in time to be considered for selection.
"The team here and that includes our physio, S&C coach, doctor, psychologist and nutritionist, is going to be doing everything in their power to give her 100 percent support.
"We’ll be working closely with EIS who, with lottery funding from UK Sport, have world leading rehabilitation specialists in place to support us.
"She has come to terms with the fact the injury has happened and she has a clear drafted plan for return.
"It is bad luck for Sarah and bad luck for the programme. But our job in GB Taekwondo is to win that gold medal at -67kg and we have got to select the girl that's going to do that with the information we have at hand."