STAMPER SEEKS OLYMPIC BOOST AT EURO SHOWPIECE
Experienced Euro star Martin Stamper hopes London will be calling if he medals in Manchester next month.
Liverpudlian Stamper makes his sixth European Championship appearance at the Regional Arena from May 3-6.
With an Olympic place hanging on the result, the 25-year-old dad of one knows it's now or never.
And GB Taekwondo's athlete of the year in 2011 wants to make amends after returning empty handed from the recent German and Dutch Opens.
"The results in Hamburg and Eindhoven weren't what I wanted," agreed Stamper, part of a 15-strong British squad in Manchester.
"But there are so many players at the top level and so many things that can go against you.
"A tight match can go either way, especially wearing electronic body armour.
"So, it's all about getting consistency and that's what I managed last year.
"Hopefully, I can find that consistency again at the Euros and get among the medals again.
"It's the last selection tournament before the Olympic squad is picked.
"And I think I am still in a good position even though I haven't medalled this year.
"If I perform well, hopefully that will get me a medal and I can get picked, especially after my performances last year."
Stamper won 27 of his 29 fights in 2011, winning the German and British Opens as well as medalling at the World Championships in South Korea. But he isn't taking anything for granted.
"It's exciting when you think about London and those thoughts do pop in your head," he admitted.
"But I am just trying to stay focused and concentrate on the things immediately ahead of me.
"However, if I do get picked then I will be able to relax," added Stamper a European silver medallist in Rome four years ago.
"A lot of people may feel pressure when they go to an Olympics.
"But for me all the pressure has been on the last 18 months and trying to qualify."
Stamper is certainly relishing performing in front of a home crowd in Manchester. He collected gold on the same mats at the British Open last October and knows there's extra advantage fighting on familiar territory.
"Obviously there won't be as many people watching as there will be in London.
"However, it's quite a small arena so will probably feel like 8,000.
"I enjoy people coming to watch. That's why I do the sport. It's a big buzz.
"In a close match, if you have got the crowd behind you, it raises your game."
Any slip from Stamper could open the door for Beijing Olympian Michael Harvey fighting at -63kg in his home city.
Aaron Cook, one of two British gold medallists at the previous Euro gathering in Russia, defends his -80kg crown while Welsh star Jade Jones (-57kg) is looking for her first title of the year after finishing with silver at the German Open.
*Tickets are now on sale for the 2012 European Championships at Sportcity, Manchester. Priced at £11 adult, £6 children (under 16), £28 for family ticket (2 adults and 2 children), they can be booked via 0844 844 0444 or online from Ticketmaster.