‘True champion’ Walkden won’t give latest Olympic bronze the brush-off!
Bianca Walkden reckons she might try some DIY after Tokyo 2020 to turn her latest Olympic medal into the one of her dreams.
The triple world champion collected a second successive bronze and put a brave face on the disappointment of missing her golden target.
An agonising last second, semi-final defeat to South Korea’s Lee Da-bin forced ‘Queen B’ into an unwanted match for third place against Aleksandra Kowalczuk.
However, the world number one picked herself up off the mat to punch her way to a 7-3 victory over her long-standing Polish rival.
Walkden’s bronze took Team GB’s final taekwondo medal tally to three-equalling the haul from Rio 2016.
“I am glad I came away with an Olympic medal,” said the 29-year-old Liverpudlian.
“It wasn’t the colour I trained for or expected to get. I might paint it a different colour when I get home. No one has to know,” she quipped despite the dejection of her semi-final heartbreak.
Walkden admitted lifting herself to fight Kowalczuk in a repeat of this year’s European Championship final was a tough task.
“But I didn’t want to not come out and be a true champion that I train to be for every day”.
“I wanted to stand there with my head held high and fight no matter what”.
“I felt a bit dead inside, but I would have fought to the end even though it is killing me inside.”
Walkden, who gained five of her seven points from punches, also raised a Union Jack on a lap of honour at the end of a bitter-sweet campaign.
“I just said to myself ‘Bianca you deserve to runaround with the flag to say thanks to the coach, the physios, all for my family and everyone else who has helped me.
“Deep down it was hard but it doesn’t matter what colour you have got to be, it’s all about the person you want to be and the champion you have inside you.”
Earlier, Walkden was within one second of guaranteeing herself at least silver in a see-saw penultimate round battle with Da-bin.
Instead, the 2019 world champion at -73kg conjured up a winning three-point head kick to complete a 25-24 triumph.
While making no firm commitment Walkden hinted at extending her career through to Paris 2024.
“I am not that bad,” she smiled. “I am not that far off and I still have something in me. Three years isn’t that long away.
“And I should be proud. I am a three-time world champion, world number one and have got two Olympic bronze medals.
“Anyone else would die for that which is what I have got to remember.
“Besides, anything can happen in taekwondo. It is exciting to watch, it is so fast and I hope we have done the sport proud so more people get interested in it
“As a team we could have come away with a lot more. But taekwondo is so fast; it is not a coincidence or curse”.
“Everyone fights to the end and that should showcase the sport and how quick and dynamic it is”.
“Hopefully, more people get involved and see how hard it is to keep going at the end.”