Hall Of Fame – GB Performance Director Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours
1st June 2022
Performance Director Gary Hall watched as nine GB Taekwondo fighters produced medal-winning performances at the European Championships in Manchester 10 days ago.
Now, Hall has received an accolade of his own in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, gaining an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to taekwondo.
As he prepared to fly out to Italy for the Grand Prix meeting in Rome this week, the sport’s newest MBE spoke of his delight at his recognition.
“You don’t do the job for individual recognition like this but when it comes, it is humbling and a proud moment: not just for me but for everyone who has contributed to this.
“My wife Tracey, my two sons Louis and Nathan, my parents, sister and brothers have made huge sacrifices to support me.
“So, this award is as much a recognition of what they did for me as what I did for taekwondo.
“I would also like to acknowledge the role that John and Val Blairs played in coaching and guiding me since the age of 10 to make good choices in the sport and in life.
“The success story of taekwondo has been a team effort. So, this award is also recognition of all those athletes, coaches and staff that have been on the journey with me.”
And it has been an incredible journey for Hall who has dedicated himself to the martial art for more than 48 years, both as an athlete and administrator.
After a successful competitive career, including 10 British titles and a World Championship quarter-final, he gave up a well-paid and secure job to establish Sport Taekwondo – the forerunner of GB Taekwondo.
To give the team the best chance of success Hall later relocated his family in the North West.
In those early days, GBT did not have an Olympic team, there were only a handful of unpaid athletes training.
The organisation now boasts a state-of-the-art training facility – the National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester opened in 2016 which is the envy of most nations.
It is home to a plethora of world class athletes including: double Olympic gold medallist, Jade Jones, three-time world champion and current European champion, Bianca Walkden, and male world title winner, Bradly Sinden.
Hall also initiated the starting up of a para taekwondo programme which quickly gained global honours through Matt Bush (world champion) and Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games medallists, Beth Munro and Amy Truesdale. Munro, Truesdale and Joe Lane also achieved medals at the recent Euros.
Hall spent three years during the 1980’s in South Korea, the sport’s spiritual home, immersing himself in taekwondo and its culture.
“Back then, every British athlete, myself included, would always have a reason or excuse why we couldn’t achieve on the biggest stage,” he explained.
“So, I sat in my room in Korea and wrote a list of everything that needed to change and committed to eliminating every one of them.
“So, there is no reason now why an athlete who decides to take up taekwondo as a young kid in a church hall, which is the way I did it, can’t go on and be successful doing something they really love. That for me is the nub of it.”
Julia Newton, chair of GB Taekwondo, said: “No one has done more for the sport of taekwondo in this country than Gary Hall.
“What he has created is an incredible athlete-centric approach which has delivered outstanding success on the world stage and inspired many to become part of the taekwondo family, both as participants and ardent fans.
“I’m over the moon his many years of great service have been recognised with this award.”
Paul Buxton, GB Taekwondo CEO was also delighted by the news. “From passionate volunteer to high-performance leader, for over 20 years Gary has been dedicated to giving British athletes a fighting chance to become Taekwondo medal winners,” he said.
“His work has transformed the sport of taekwondo, the lives of the GB Taekwondo athletes and has contributed to the extraordinary success of GB in the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“I am thrilled for Gary and his family this incredible commitment has been recognised.”
The citation for Hall’s MBE also recognises the wider impact of his work in Taekwondo including enabling social mobility and overcoming barriers of discrimination.
Hall is one of a number of leading figures recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours including footballers Gareth Bale and James Milner.