31 January 2019
Truesdale not feeling pressure ahead of world title defence
Amy Truesdale may have the weight of the world on her shoulders, but the British para-taekwondo star has no intention of letting the pressure get to her anytime soon.
The 30-year-old is the reigning world champion in the k44 +58kg weight division and will attempt to defend her title when she competes in the 2019 Para-taekwondo World Championships next week.
Truesdale clinched the gold medal in style in London 2017, having also topped the podium in 2014 after her opponent was retrospectively deemed ineligible for the event.
And as the best in the world, the Chester-born star – also a bronze medallist in 2009 and 2015 – admits that the expectation on her to live up to her billing is more intense than ever.
But with 22 years of experience under her belt, and the prospect of competing at Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Truesdale insists she will continue to take everything in her stride.
“I have to approach the next World Championships in the same way that I have done before and try not to put any extra pressure on myself really,” she said.
“Being number one in the world will always bring a certain amount of expectation, as I know that everyone will be out to beat me, but all I can do is stick to my game plan and go from there.”
Truesdale’s determination to remain at the pinnacle of her sport should come as no surprise, considering she has spent most of her career balancing part-time jobs with being an athlete.
Amy Truesdale with her world gold medal
“Quite recently I had a stint where I was coaching taekwondo in schools, which was perhaps one of the most fulfilling jobs I’ve had as I loved working with young people,” she said.
“Equally, I had a few jobs in my time that weren’t so fulfilling and I suppose those are the ones I remember the most.
“I ended up working in a shop for four years trying to balance earning a living alongside training and I found retail was a very tricky job for me.
“As my peers would tell you, I can be quite outspoken at times and I found the whole experience frustrating when I all I wanted to do was get back on the mats and train.”
Having won everything else there is to win in her sport, Truesdale has longed to add a Paralympic gold medal to her collection – a dream that could finally come true next year.
I’ve always aspired to go to a Paralympics and compete at the very highest level
Para-taekwondo will be one of two new sports at Tokyo 2020 and while her immediate focus is on retaining her world crown in Turkey, Paralympic glory is what she desires more than anything else.
“When I got the call last year to say that para-taekwondo was going to be at Tokyo 2020, it was one of those sliding doors moments as it finally enabled me to a be a full-time athlete,” she said.
“I definitely want to be a history-maker and the face of para-taekwondo because Tokyo will be a watershed moment for the sport and I want to be right there at the forefront doing what I do best.
“I’ve always aspired to go to a Paralympics and compete at the very highest level so I’ve always been prepared for this even if at times it didn’t look like it was going to happen.
“When I look at other Paralympic athletes, I notice that a lot of them are older anyway, so I don’t feel like the clock is against me in any sense.
“For me, getting that Paralympic gold remains the main objective of mine and I’m comfortable with the pressure and expectation that brings as number one in the world.”