Trailblazer Doncaster’s Sarah Stevenson ‘could not fight on’

Sarah Stevenson is consoled by husband and coach Steve Jennings following her first round defeat at London 2012 - Stevenson's final bout
Sarah Stevenson is consoled by husband and coach Steve Jennings following her first round defeat at London 2012 - Stevenson's final bout
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‘Trailblazer’ Sarah Stevenson has admitted that competing at the highest level became an irrelevance after losing both of her parents.

The 30-year-old taekwondo star, who hails from Bentley, announced her retirement from the sport yesterday.

The reigning world champion is to move into a coaching role with GB Taekwondo.

Stevenson’s biggest supporters were her mother Diana and father Roy, who both lost their battles with terminal illness in the run up to last summer’s London Olympics.

She told the Star: “If I hadn’t gone through what I did, losing both my mum and dad, I might’ve gone to the Worlds this year to try and win that.

“But I’ve been through so much mentally and physically. The time is right to retire.

“I’ve known in my heart it’s what I have wanted to do for a while.

“I’ve had a break since London to see if I missed it, and I don’t.

“Fighting competitively has become irrelevant after everything I’ve been through.”

British Olympic Association chairman Lord Sebastian Coe described Stevenson as a “trailblazer” in taekwondo.

“As Britain’s first-ever world champion and Olympic medallist in taekwondo, Sarah Stevenson has been a trailblazer for her sport, in the UK and globally,” said Lord Coe.

“Her pursuit of excellence has been tireless and she reached the pinnacle of her sport through dedication and sacrifice.

“Sarah overcame personal heartbreak and serious injury to secure a place with Team GB last summer.

“We wish Sarah the very best for continued success as a coach and we thank her for her commitment to Team GB and the Olympic Movement.”