'Doncaster is the taekwondo capital of England' - reaction to Bradly Sinden's silver medal at Tokyo Olympics
Doncaster has a new sporting hero in Olympic silver medallist Bradly Sinden.
And his proud mum Sheryl says the town can claim the title of ‘England’s taekwondo capital’!
Doncaster’s taekwondo trailblazer Sarah Stevenson inspired a generation by winning Britain’s first ever Olympic medal in the sport at Beijing 2008.
Now Sinden looks set to inspire the next generation – and the 22-year-old from Stainforth also still has plenty of time on his side to win Olympic gold.
Hopes are high that Dunscroft youngster Mason Yarrow, another member of the Team GB set-up, will feature at Paris 2024.
And Sinden’s eyecatching exploits in Tokyo are sure to inspire lots more Doncaster kids who have access to some of the best clubs in the country.
Sinden started out at Kings Taekwondo in Hatfield at the age of just four.
He joined GB’s senior ranks five years ago and became world champion in 2019 which saw him go into the Games full of confidence.
Sadly it wasn’t meant to be in a thrilling -68kg final against Uzbekistan teenager Ulug Rashitov, whose dramatic late head kick swung the contest in his favour.
But Sheryl told the Free Press that her son already has ‘fire in his belly’ for the 2024 Olympics.
“It's amazing what he's done,” she said.
“Obviously I'm disappointed for him because it's not what he wanted - he wanted the gold.
“He knows he made some mistakes and he blames himself and I think it's going to take a while for it to sink in just what he has achieved.
“I spoke to him briefly after the final and he was obviously feeling very despondent.
“He stayed up until about 5.30am with Martin Stamper [GB coach] discussing exactly what he's achieved over these last few years - and there were probably a few drinks involved too!
“He's said it'll put the fire in his belly for Paris. He'll get over it and go again. That's the mindset of an athlete.
“It's only three years to the next Olympics. It's less than two and a half years until he'll know whether he has qualified and with the points he has got it'll be very hard for him not to be in the top six in two and a half years time.”
Like Bradly, Sheryl was keen to congratulate Rashitov, an unfancied 19-year-old who had to come through a qualifying match to reach the round of 16.
But she did admit to being frustrated at some of the media coverage and social media comments that followed her son’s agonising 34-29 defeat.
"I'm a bit fed up of reading things like 'eight seconds away from winning a gold medal',” said Sheryl.
“It's true, yes, but some of the other things I've read are ridiculous because people don't realise how many points you can score in taekwondo in eight seconds.
“Lauren Williams was ahead in her final and the same thing happened. Lutalo Muhammad, at the last Olympics, lost gold with less than a second on the clock.
“Bradly's been on the other side of it too. At the worlds against Lee Dae-Hoon in the semi-final he won it with a last second kick.
"That's the just the nature of the sport. They fight until the end and that's what Rashitov did, so all kudos to him.”
After being glued to the television on Sunday with family, including daughter Jodie – a qualified taekwondo referee – Sheryl was at Kings Taekwondo on Monday to celebrate Bradly’s success and for filming with local news crews.
She was blown away by the turnout of friends, club members and ex-members, and says the events of the last few days have reaffirmed Doncaster’s reputation as a taekwondo hotbed.
“It was absolutely fantastic on Monday,” she said.
"We just put something out on social media a couple of hours before we came down and loads of little kids showed up, some ex-pupils and Mason Yarrow was there.
"Mason started here with Bradly and he's now a teammate of Bradly's at Team GB. He's always looked up to Bradly, he's been his role model and it looks like he'll be going the same way as Brad and hopefully he'll be one to watch out for in 2024.
“Everybody says Doncaster is the taekwondo capital of England,” she added. “We've got so many good clubs in and around Doncaster.
"A lot of them started via our coach Martin Baker and Gary Sykes from All-Stars, who coached Sarah Stevenson.
"They fought together for GB back in the day and then became coaches. They then trained other coaches like Kathy Hook from Ultimate who is Mason's club coach and Pete Adamsons and Adele Deakes from Scorpion. It's a legacy that's been passed on.”
Sinden’s silver medal exploits were just part of an action-packed taekwondo tournament in Tokyo which Sheryl says will give the sport an enormous boost.
"These Olympics are going to do wonders for taekwondo in general,” said Sheryl.
“In recent years a lot of people started criticising it, saying it's just like dancing with your leg in the air, and things like that.
“Nobody can say that after watching this Olympics. There's been thrills and spills and it's been really exciting.
“I've seen lots of things online from people saying they've never seen taekwondo before but they're absolutely glued to it.
“People I know, they knew Bradly did taekwondo, they're sending me messages saying they're hooked on it.
“I think it'll give taekwondo a massive boost and I hope it does.
"All sports are fighting to stay in the Olympics and hopefully this year's competitions will make sure that taekwondo remains in the Olympics for many years to come.”