From rupturing her ACL ten months ago to becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the world – the past 12 months have been eventful for Bianca Walkden.
My life has been a whirlwind over the last year, so many ups and downs – from rupturing my ACL ten months ago at the Grand Prix semi-final, to recently becoming the Heavyweight Champion of the world!
I always knew I could do it and win, but I obviously had to take into account that I was injured, as it definitely played a huge part in my training and preparation for the Taekwondo World Championships. Especially since I’ve been to the event before, I knew just how much ground work would go into it and I only started training again in January of this year (2015).
Keeping a positive mind-set has also been another thing for me to consider when recovering from injury. I’m lucky to have been given the opportunity to pursue my dreams by UK Sport’s National Lottery funded World Class Programme and its supporters. I’m also fortunate to have had the backing of an amazing team during my recovery period, from Dr David Jones, my strength and conditioning coaches Rhys Ingram and Duncan French, the physiotherapist Simon Edwards and not to forget my coach Paul Green; they’ve all been fantastic and there for me since day one. It’s thanks to the National Lottery players that I was able to recover so quickly and keep my dream alive, so for that I am forever grateful.
There’s not long left to go now until the Taekwondo Grand Prix either which will be taking place on the 16th-18th of October at the National Squash Centre in Manchester. It’s more important than ever for the British public to attend, to hear them cheering you on when you’re on home soil is such a nice feeling and even with our families, they don’t really get the chance to fly out to all of the events abroad so I genuinely feel it makes a real difference having that home crowd support and I enjoy having them there.
In the lead up to Rio 2016, there’s going to be a lot of events similar to the Taekwondo Grand Prix all over the country as part of the #EveryRoadtoRio events series. I’m a fan of watching the athletics and they’ve got their Grand Prix final on the 26 July 2015 in London which I’m looking forward to.
Taekwondo is usually seen as quite a male-orientated sport because of its physical aspect but from my time on the squad, the academy itself has changed a great deal. The number of female athletes has grown and now there are just as many as males.
We have a really strong girls’ team now which means there are more medals being won! Not to mention we love to challenge the perception of the sport and train with the boys, as it pushes us to put in a 100% during our sessions.
There’s also a lot more female role models for the next generation to look up to in comparison to when I first started Taekwondo. Take Sarah Stevenson’s epic Olympic Bronze win for instance, or her World Champion title, not to mention Jade Jones’s Olympic glory making her the first British female athlete to win a gold medal in Taekwondo at the Olympics ever.
I myself have accomplished great things I could only have dreamed of. To be able to say I’m currently the World and European Champion is amazing.
The younger generation is starting to take shape too through the talent pathway programme. Just last year Abigail Stones and Lauren Williams both made huge achievements – they were crowned Junior World Champions of their divisions.
The future of Taekwondo is definitely in good hands!
You can get behind Bianca and other British athletes as they prepare for Rio 2016 at upcoming #EveryRoadtoRio events. Find out more at www.uksport.gov.uk/events