Muhammad wins Olympic taekwondo bronze

Muhammad wins Olympic taekwondo bronze
By Eurosport

11/08/2012 at 06:32Updated 11/08/2012 at 09:50

British Taekwondo's controversial selection Lutalo Muhammad won Olympic bronze in the 80kg weight division.

Having lost to 7-2 to Spain’s fifth seed Nicolas Garcia Hemme in the quarter-finals, the mild-mannered 21-year-old from East London had to wait for his conqueror to qualify for the final before getting another shot via the repechage.

And he took his second chance, demolishing Arman Yeremyan of Armenia 9-3 in the bronze medal play-off.

Muhammad was selected ahead of world number one Aaron Cook despite being asked to compete in the wrong weight category.

Cook took his case to several appeals, with British Taekwondo coming off poorly from the situation but the BOA unable to force their hand.

The selection of the inexperienced Muhammad was widely attributed to Cook’s decision to train outside of his national federation’s programme, although they insisted the decision was made on sporting grounds.

However, Muhammad's bronze - which is only Britain's third taekwondo medal in Olympic history - appears to have at least partly vindicated the decision.

Muhammad said he did not use the furore over his selection to fire himself up.

"It was a tough ordeal coming in. But I don't use it as fuel or anything like that," he said. "I'm just very proud to win a medal for Team GB. It was always going to be great to win a medal.

"Being in London makes it sweet. But I really wanted to deliver and bring that gold medal home. That's unfortunate, I was unable to do that. But I'm happy to get the bronze."

Great Britain women’s Sarah Stevenson suffered a cruel opening defeat that robbed her of the chance of gold at London 2012.

Stevenson, who took the athlete’s oath at the opening ceremony, was favourite to win the middleweight division, but was beaten 5-1 by the USA’s Paige McPherson.

McPherson failed to get to the final afterwards, meaning Stevenson will not compete for bronze through the repechage.

“I did near enough my best – I was as ready as I could be,” said Stevenson, who lost both her parents to cancer in 2011.

“I tried my best – it has been a hard build up. My aim was to come here and go for it and I felt like I did.

“It has been hard. It has been a mental fight every single day for the last 18 months. I did my best – my dad brought me to be here and I know they would be proud.

“I would have been forgiven for quitting and sitting in the corner and cry but I’m not a quitter. I would never have quit and just to be here and do my best.

“I want to wake up tomorrow and have no regrets and I think I might be able to do that. Obviously I’m going to be a bit disappointed but that was my aim, and my family’s aim.

"The last year has helped put this event into perspective. I wanted to be here, I wanted to give 100 per cent and I wanted to fight.

"But this is meant to be fun. This is the Olympics, it's not life or death, it's meant to be fun.

"There are more important things in life than taekwondo."