Stainforth's Bradly Sinden aims to strike gold at Tokyo Olympics
Inspired by Doncaster’s taekwondo trailblazer Sarah Stevenson, Bradly Sinden is ready to write himself into the Olympic history books.
Sinden, from Stainforth, was aged just nine when he watched Stevenson win bronze at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Great Britain’s first ever medal in the sport.
On Sunday the 22-year-old will take to the mats in Tokyo bidding to become GB Taekwondo’s first male Olympic gold medallist.
"I distinctly remember watching Sarah,” Sinden told the Free Press. "It was obviously very memorable because of her headshot that didn't score but then got overturned.
"But with Sarah also being from Doncaster and becoming the first taekwondo athlete to win a medal at the Olympics it became ingrained in my head.
"The funding that came from that medal has helped me and lots of other athletes by creating pathways such as the cadet programme. It was a huge moment.
"Steve Jennings, Sarah’s husband, is one of the boys' coaches so I see her quite regularly,” he added. “She was in the other week and we had a little catch up and she wished me good luck.”
Even at the tender age of nine, Sinden had long caught the taekwondo bug at Kings Taekwondo in Hatfield under the tutelage of Martin Baker.
“I've done taekwondo since I was four and I love the sport,” he said. "My sister did it because one of her friends did it, so I just got dragged along to watch with my mum!
“You weren't supposed to start until you were about six or seven but because I was a really hyperactive kid - I couldn't sit still – and I was doing the kicks from my chair, the coach said I could join in if I could do it without misbehaving.
“That's how I got into it. I still keep in touch with Martin now and every time I'm at home I'll pop into the club for a chat.”
Dubbed ‘Mr Consistent’, Sinden shone on the junior circuit before winning his first senior medal, a bronze, at the 2017 World Championships in Korea.
Two years later he made history by becoming GB’s first male world champion.
"To become world champion and Olympic champion has always been my goal,” he said.
“When I joined the GB team five years ago it was obviously my aim to win the Worlds and get to Tokyo 2020 but coming in with zero ranking points it was a hard task and 2024 seemed more likely.
“But I got the results I needed and started being conistent quite early and then put the hard work in and managed to win the Worlds in 2019.
“If you'd told me I'd do that in 2016 I probaby would've laughed because so many other people have tried before me.
“But I knew going into that world final I had the potential to win it and I performed on the day and that's what happened.
“I know I've got the potential to win gold at the Olympics so it's the same process. Go out there, put my best performance down and see who comes out on top.
"I'm feeling confident,” he added. “We did a simulation day, fighting at the exact times we'll fight out in Tokyo to make it as real as possible, and I fought really well. I'm in a great place so now it's just about fine tuning the details and making sure I'm ready to take those on the mat with me.”
Bradly Sinden’s resilience has been key to him reaching the pinnacle of his sport.
That’s the verdict of his proud mother Sheryl ahead of her son’s quest for Olympic gold in taekwondo.
"He always had potential but he had years where didn’t do so well,” she said.
“He was always really good at domestic competitions and at national level – he’d been national champion in all the junior age groups – but when it came to going abroad when he was younger he just wasn’t putting in the performances, so he wasn’t selected to represent GB at cadet level.
"That was hard for him because his friends around him were being selected.
"At eight or nine he decided he wanted to be an Olympian. He’s had two career goals – to become world champion and Olympic champion – and he’s ticked one off and now he wants to do the other.
"He’s just very resilient. He decided what he wanted to do from an early age.
“One of the coaches at GB Taekwondo said to him very early on ‘you’re going to be in taekwondo for a long time, Bradly’ and it’s always stuck with us, that.
"He’s never taken his talent for granted and he’s pushed himself to the limit.”
Spectators have been banned from most Olympic events due to rising Covid infections.
"I’m absolutely devastated not to be there,” she said. “Everything was booked for last year and then rearranged for this year but no foreign spectators are allowed.
"I’ll be watching it on television like everyone else. I’ve always said I’d rather it go ahead with no spectators and me have to be at home than it not go ahead at all.”