Bianca Walkden bronze medal: Taekwondo star felt 'dead inside' after Tokyo Olympic Games medal

Taekwondo star gained an Olympic medal – but it wasn’t the colour she wanted

Bianca Walkden of Team Great Britain poses with the bronze medal for the Women's +67kg Taekwondo.
Bianca Walkden of Team Great Britain poses with the bronze medal for the Women's +67kg Taekwondo.

Bianca Walkden admitted she felt 'dead inside' after collecting Olympic bronze – joking she’d spray it gold as soon as she returns home.

Taekwondo fights last six minutes, if they only lasted ten seconds less then Great Britain could have very easily won three golds here, rather than an still impressive return of two silvers and a bronze.

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Lee Da-bin (R) of Team South Korea shakes hands after defeating Bianca Walkden during the Women's +67kg Taekwondo semi-final.

After Bradly Sinden and Lauren Williams were overhauled in their final fights, the pressure was on world champion Walkden to go one better in Tokyo.

She was leading Lee Da-bin in her 67kg semi-final with just a second to go, only for the Korean to unleash a high-scoring head kick, leaving Walkden shocked and in tears.

It was a throwback to Lutalo Muhammad's final defeat in Rio five years and a reminder that in this sport you really do have to wait till the final buzzer sounds.

Walkden returned to take on Poland's Aleksandra Kowalczuk in a fight for bronze – matching her performance from Rio – but tears soon flowed and celebrations were muted.

"I'm glad I came away with an Olympic medal but it was not the colour I trained for or expected," she said. "I gave my heart and soul in that semi and was a little bit unlucky with some of the decisions.

“I wanted to come out and be a true champion like I train for every day, I wanted to stand there with my head high and fight no matter what.

"I feel a little bit dead inside and it's killing me. It's a medal just not the colour I wanted, I might paint it over when I get it home, no one has to know.

"I'll be proud when I get a gold, it's only three years away. I'm not that far off, I'm a three-time world champion, three-time European champion, I'm world number one and I've got two Olympic medals, anyone else would die for that and I need to remember that."

When the final buzzer sounded and her team-mates cheered, Walkden just slumped the floor, the emotion flooding from her. She was persuaded to wrap herself in the Union flag but you could tell her heart wasn't in it.

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"I didn't want to run around with the flag afterwards but I wanted to say thank you to coach, the physio and all the people involved. It was really hard to do but it was for my friends and all my family. Deep down I was dying to cry," she added.

"The whole fight wasn't going my way. I was raring to fire and put the shots in but the referee nearly disqualified me and I didn't think I was doing that much wrong. I wanted to attack but I got grabbed.

"It's shoulda woulda coulda, I'm an attacker and I gave it everything I've got. Maybe another day with another ref it would have been a whole different score.

"The last few hours have been hard, they tried to pick me up and said I've have more regret not going for it. Now I can cry and let it all out but I had to hold it in as much as I could and just be professional."

Walkden also said there would be no regrets about tactics, after a series of British fighters lost in the dying seconds - attack, she insists, is always the best form of defence.

"The team was absolutely fantastic and we were so close to two golds, it shows how good this sport is and anything can happen, it's so fast and exciting to watch," added Walkden.

"Hopefully more people are invested in it but we should have come away with a lot more. Maybe we can get six qualifications in Paris and come away with six gold medals. We're definitely a team to watch.

"More people are realising how fast taekwondo is, it's not a coincidence or a curse. Everyone fights to the end, that should showcase the sport and show how quick and dynamic it is."

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