London 2012: Countdown to Sarah Stevenson’s big day

Sarah Stevenson wins the World Championship gold medal in North Korea - 10 years after her first world title''May 3 2011

Sarah Stevenson wins the World Championship gold medal in North Korea - 10 years after her first world title''May 3 2011

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OLYMPIC oath icon Sarah Stevenson has recalled her very humble beginnings in the sport of Taekwondo - which included the odd car boot sale in Doncaster!

Stevenson, 29, used to set up a stall with her father Roy to raise money to enter competitions as a youngster.

And how it paid dividends.

Bentley girl Stevenson was proudly chosen to read the Olympic oath on behalf of all athletes competing at London 2012 at a magical opening ceremony.

It marked an incredible rise to fame for the reigning world champion, who when she first competed in the Olympics 12 years ago wasn’t totally convinced her travelling expenses would be covered!

Sarah said: “In those days, just to go to the Games and not pay was a massive deal.

“That was the first time I had not paid to go to a major competition.

“Before that my dad and I used to do car boot sales and other things to raise money so I could get to competitions.”

Stevenson must wait until this Friday for her London 2012 bow in the women’s -67kg category.

An intense day of competition awaits, with the outcome of years of preparation determined inside hours.

Friday will see the preliminary rounds kick off at 9am, building up to the gold medal match at 10.15pm the same night.

The Team GB Taekwondo team have held a mock Olympics test day replicating the busy schedule ahead.

Stevenson, meanwhile, has been backed for Olympic glory by her coach Gary Hall.

She is aiming to better the bronze medal she won in Beijing four years ago - and hopes to win gold in honour of her parents who both died last year.

Stevenson lost both her mother Diana and father Roy to cancer.

A cruciate knee ligament injury then put her Olympic selection in doubt but Stevenson has since battled back to full fitness.

“Sarah is simply world class in every department,” said Hall.

“Her pedigree is unquestionable, she will be a significant threat in London.

“She is the queen of taekwondo in Britain and has been for many years.

“There is no accolade I could push her way that would do her justice.”

Stevenson is part of a four-strong Team GB Taekwondo unit. alongside women’s lightweight Jade Jones, men’s lightweight Martin Stamper and middleweight Lutalo Muhammad.

Send a good luck message to Sarah and read it in this week’s Doncaster Free Press. Tweet @paulgoodwinDFP or email paul.goodwin@doncastertoday.co.uk.