ON THIS DAY: 2008: Doncaster tae kwondo ace Sarah Stevenson wins bronze at Olympics
It was the day that a young girl from Doncaster put the town squarely in the spotlight – by seizing one of the most prized objects in sport.
For it was on August 23, 2008, eight years ago today that battling Bentley heroine Sarah Stevenson did not only herself and her family but her town and the whole nation proud by picking up a tae kwondo bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics in China.
It wasn’t her first honour – and it wouldn’t be her last – but it was the first time Great Britain had won a medal in the sport and elevated Sarah, now 34, to superstar status after years of slogging away at the sport she loved.
But it nearly didn’t happen. Due to an error in judging, she almost exited the 2008 games at the quarter-final stage following her match with China’s Chen Zhong.
In the final round, the judges failed to award Stevenson two points for a high-kick to the head, which would have put her one point in the lead with 10 seconds remaining.
Following the match, the British team representative immediately made an official protest and, after studying video footage of the kick the judges reversed the result of the fight and Stevenson progressed to the semi final.
Stevenson’s semi-final opponent was Maria del Rosario Espinoza of Mexico, and she lost 4-1, also sustaining a twisted ankle. She then went on to compete for bronze in the repechage, defeating Noha Abd Rabo of Egypt and winning Britain’s first Olympic medal in taekwondo.
The former Don Valley School pupil started her career by becoming Junior World Champion in 1998, was world champion in 2001 and 2011 and also competed at the 2000, 2004 and 2012 Olympic Games where she was also chosen to read the Olympic oath after overcoming the tragedy of losing both her parents ahead of the Games.
London 2012 marked the end of her sporting career and she is now a full-time mum for daughter Elsie.