SK Exclusive: Interview with taekwondo champion Bianca Walkden

Source: Getty Images
Harry Kettle

Mixed martial arts is considered to be one of the quickest growing sports in the world, both in terms of popularity and participation. While that may indeed be true, people often forget that the specific elements of MMA are equally as important when it comes to the development of a world-class fighter – with one particular art of importance being taekwondo.

Despite the fact that we only ever really hear about it around the time of the Olympics, taekwondo is a sport which has tournaments throughout the world on a month by month basis, with one of the leading stars right now being none other than Olympic bronze medallist Bianca Walkden.

“You see a lot of sports people come from Liverpool. I think it’s that Scousers are born with fight, and Scousers are just made to be out there competing. Everyone gets behind everyone.”

We had the chance to speak to the British superstar recently about all things sports related, as well as her growing relevance both at home and abroad. Walkden was recently one of the finalists in the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and while she may not have won, her nomination certainly puts her on the map.

Bianca is intent on growing the sport of taekwondo to the point where it’s recognized around the globe as a high profile martial art, as opposed to just being spoken about within the MMA circle.

“In taekwondo, there’s not really an off-season or anything like that. It’s pretty much full on, all year round. You’ve got to try and get your break in as quick as you can, and at the beginning of the year you’ve got a lot of ‘open’ competitions, which will get you warmed up for the major competitions. We had the Worlds in June, and that’s our major competition, and then after that we have Grand Prix events which is the Top 32 in the world. This year we have five of them, so there are even more competitions up for grabs.”

At the age of just 26, she seems to just keep getting better and better, with her infectious personality only assisting in her inevitable rise to superstardom.

“If I got an opportunity to do it [MMA] for quite a bit of money, and I got offered a big fight, then why not? I’d probably get knocked out straight away, but you never know. I’ll be the underdog, then hopefully take the shot and win it!”

Of course, obtaining bronze in Rio was a special achievement, but as we look ahead to Tokyo it’s clear to see that the Liverpool native would love nothing more than to bring home the gold as she has done so often throughout many other competitions over the years.

Edited by Akhilesh Tirumala
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