WALKDEN READY TO HIT THE HIGH NOTES ON OLYMPIC DEBUT
Bianca Walkden watched Jade Jones deliver her historic second Olympic Games title and now wants a slice of the golden action.
Welsh wonder Jones has no bigger fan than her GB Academy team mate, friend and housemate.
But Walkden desperately wants to replicate her pal’s triumph to compete a unique achievement not even the “Headhunter’ can match.
The 24-year-old Liverpudlian missed selection for London 2012 after battling back from the first of two major knee operations.
Since then she has overcome further surgery to become European and World champion, needing an Olympic gold medal to complete taekwondo’s treble crown.
She acted as cheerleader for Jones and the GB squad four years ago but hopes now it’s her turn in the Olympic spotlight.
“I was devastated I didn’t get to go to London but thought ‘I am not going to let it happen again,’” says Walkden, final preparations done for Saturday’s appearance in the heavyweight (+67kg) division.
“Jade was the underdog but showed so much heart and went out and won while Lutalo (Muhammad) did fantastically well with the pressure he was under.
“They showed us all you can go out and win a major; it wasn’t such a big thing and we could all do it.
“I went out there and supported them all but thought I wanted to do that next time.
“In the ring we try and kill each other but me and Jade are truly best mates,” she says of her relationship with Britain’s first ever double Olympic taekwondo champion. “It’s not just for the cameras.
“We take it in turns to do the chores but Jade is messy plus I am a year older so I do mother her a bit.”
Walkden’s performances over the past 12 months have eclipsed even Jones’s achievements and in 2016 she has yet to lose a contest; listing the inaugural President’s Cup and European Championship among her triumphs.
“’Queen B’s’ last defeat came at the World Grand Prix series overall final in Mexico last December and her winning streak has brought its own concerns.
“I do sometimes wonder am I going to run out of wins? she explains. “I say to the psychologist ‘do I have a certain number of wins in a year?
“But as long as I go out and die trying then I can’t have any regrets.”
And Walkden has found a soothing way to leave the stresses and strains of the training arena behind her.
“I started piano lessons, every Tuesday for 30 minutes,” she reveals. “It’s really helped me switch off from taekwondo. And I am quite good for a beginner!”
Walkden is anything but a novice when it comes to taekwondo and she’s fine tuned her game to scale new heights in the Carioca 3 Arena.