Olympic medal star Sarah’s tragic blow

Proud parents: Mum Dianne Stevenson and dad Roy Stevenson welcomed their Olympic bronze medal-winning daughter Sarah back from Beijing in 2008 with coach Gary Sykes.
Proud parents: Mum Dianne Stevenson and dad Roy Stevenson welcomed their Olympic bronze medal-winning daughter Sarah back from Beijing in 2008 with coach Gary Sykes.
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Tragedy has struck Doncaster Olympic medal hopeful Sarah Stevenson for the second time in three months with the death of her mum.

The 28-year-old taekwondo champion was at the bedside of her mother Diana when she died in St John’s Hospice, Balby, from terminal cancer on Wednesday afternoon.

Sarah was still coming to terms with the death of her 63-year-old father Roy from a brain tumour in July. He was diagnosed with it only three months earlier.

Despite the knowledge of her parents’ fatal illnesses, Sarah was still able to concentrate and win the world champion ship in South Korea last May.

In the build up to the championships she said her mum and dad’s condition had made her stronger and more determined to win medals for them as well as herself.

Sarah won a bronze medal in taekwondo at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 - Britain’s first in the sport - and will be among the favourites at London 2012.

Sarah said her mother, also 63, had put up ‘a very brave and determined battle’ against the cancer, which was diagnosed in January.

She had received intensive chemotherapy treatment in Sheffield but spent her last couple of days in the Doncaster hospice with her family at her bedside.

“She has shown amazing strength over this past year but now she has no more pain and is reunited with my dad Roy, her soulmate,” said Sarah.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported my family through this very difficult time, particularly staff at St John’s and the Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital.

“I would also really like to thanks my friends and family who have been amazing and all the staff and athletes at GB Taekwondo. I am sure you will now respect our privacy over the coming weeks.”

Spending time helping to care for her mum has meant Sarah missing out on some training camps with the GB squad but now she will be able to devote more of her energies to preparing for the Olympics next summer.

In the summer she said: “The last nine months have been awful, it’s just been one thing after another. Sport is secondary to everything at the moment.

“I’m trying to keep fit when I can, and I’m thinking about entering the French Open in December, but I’m not really thinking about taekwondo at the moment.

“At times like these you realise that other things in life are more important.”

Sport pundits have already named Sarah at number eight in the list of Britain’s top 50 medal prospects for London 2012.

After that she will be able to make more time for her development programme aimed at up-and-coming teenage taekwondo stars of the future.