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World champion Bradly Sinden already eyeing Paris redemption following Tokyo taekwondo silver

·3-min read
Great Britain's Bradly Sinden admitted he'd made costly mistakes in his maiden Olympic final but vowed to come back stronger in Paris
Great Britain's Bradly Sinden admitted he'd made costly mistakes in his maiden Olympic final but vowed to come back stronger in Paris

If ever there was a sport designed for that sporting cliché about snatching defeat from victory then it's taekwondo, writes James Toney.

World champion Bradly Sinden looked to be heading to Team GB's first gold of the Games but instead leaves Tokyo with a silver - and a gilt-edged story of what might have been.

Taekwondo sees fighters flail away at each other all arms and legs, picking up points for kicks to the body or, even better, the head. Doing it while spinning... extra points.

Some adopt the 'float like a butterfly' approach, dancing deftly around the mat and picking off points to build a winning advantage. Sinden prefers just to sting like a bee - fury, feet and fists from buzzer to buzzer, his leg extending improbably like Inspector Gadget.

On his route to the final he scored 53, 39 and 33 points - the three highest scores by anyone all day.

However, against Uzbekistan teenager Ulugbek Rashitov he found a cagey rival and twice found himself seven points down, only to seize back marginal control.

With just eight seconds remaining he was leading by two—but eight seconds in taekwondo is an age. Just ask Sinden’s team-mate Lutalo Muhammad, who five years ago looked like he’d banked gold only to lose on the buzzer. Clock-watching in this game can be lethal.

JADE JONES SUFFERS SHOCK DEFEAT, BIANCA WALKDEN LEFT IN TEARS
JADE JONES SUFFERS SHOCK DEFEAT, BIANCA WALKDEN LEFT IN TEARS

"The feeling right now is just disappointment, it was my gold medal to give away and it's a hard one to take," said Sinden, whose Team GB exploits in Tokyo were broadcast live on Eurosport and discovery+.

"It's gutting and hard when you get silver, when you win gold or bronze you get to celebrate that moment.

"I'll reflect on this and be proud of what I've achieved in these last five years, from having no ranking points to becoming world champion and winning an Olympic silver.

"But this was my gold medal here, obviously he is a good fighter, I just made a few mistakes. I think I got unlucky with a few things as well but that is taekwondo. I knew what time was left and I thought I was controlling it well but he reacted well and caught me.

"I thought he was on the back foot. You have to commend him for what he did - a few mistakes from me and he's the Olympic champion."

Sinden's journey to Tokyo began at his first club session, aged just four.

He was only nine when Sarah Stevenson, until now Doncaster's most famous Olympian, won bronze in Beijing and made his junior international debut when she read the athletes' oath at London 2012.

He'll be 25 in Paris, where, targets now quickly recalibrated, he'll seek a gold medal upgrade. 

In Rashitov, however, he has a worthy adversary for that journey - the elated Uzbekistani, seeded 17th, at the start of the day, beat the world number one and two to take his gold medal.

"You'll see me again in Paris, I'm just getting started," added Sinden.

"Sometimes you learn more than defeats and I'll be taking that learning curve into Paris and hopefully I can go one better.”

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+, The Streaming Home of the Olympics.

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