Who is Bianca Walkden? What happened to Team GB taekwondo gold medal hopeful at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Bianca Walkden had her eyes on the gold following the 2016 Olympics in Rio where she earned a bronze medal

Bianca Walkden, Team GB taekwondo fighter, has lost out on her opportunity to claim an Olympic gold medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics following a dramatic semi-final match with Dabin Lee of South Korea.

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Who is Bianca Walkden?

Bianca Walkden competes against Aleksandra Kowalczuk of Team Poland (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Walkden, from Liverpool is one of the athletes on Team GB competing in taekwondo. She was born 29 September 1991 and is 29 years old.

As a heavyweight fighter, Walkden has built up an impressive career over the years, and is best known for being the first GB taekwondo athlete to win to take the World Championships crown for the third time.

Her initial World Championships win in 2015 was considered especially impressive as she was recovering from an ACL injury.

Walkden began training in taekwondo at age 11, when she started going to a local club with a friend.

Her sporting career started at 15, when she received a bronze medal at the Junior European Championships - the next year Walkden followed up with a silver medal at the Junior World Championships.

In 2016, Walkden qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, where she added a bronze Olympic medal to her growing collection.

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What happened in her matches?

Walkden had led her semi-final match against South Korea’s Dabin Lee by two points, however at the last moment Lee pulled off a three point head kick that tipped the score in her favour, ending the match at 25-24.

The Team GB fighter rallied in her fight against Poland’s Aleksandra Kowalczuk to win 7-3 and secure a spot on the podium with a bronze medal.

It was a similar story for many of Team GB’s taekwondo fighters, with Bradly Sinden just missing out on a gold medal thanks to the eight seconds at the end of his match against Ulugbek Rashitov, and Lauren Williams losing her three point advantage with 10 seconds to go during her match with world number one Matea Jelic.

Both Sinden and Williams managed to claim silver Olympic medals.

What has Bianca Walkden said?

Following her match against Kowalczuk, Walkden said: “I’m glad I came away with an Olympic medal but it was not the colour I trained for or expected.

“I gave my heart and soul in that semi and was a little bit unlucky with some of the decisions.

“I wanted to come out and be a true champion like I train for every day, I wanted to stand there with my head held high and fight no matter what.

“I feel a little bit dead inside and it’s killing me. It’s a medal, just not the colour I wanted, I might paint it over when I get it home, no-one has to know.

“I’ll be proud when I get a gold, it’s only three years away. I’m not that far off, I’m a three time world champion, three time European champion, I’m world number one and I’ve got two Olympic medals, anyone else would die for that and I need to remember that.”

Walkden was picked up by team-mate and double Olympic champion Jade Jones after losing her semi-final, admitting she found it hard to come back out to contest the bronze.

Muted celebrations followed her victory and she insisted there were no regrets about her game plan.

She added: "I didn't want to run around with the flag afterwards but I wanted to say thank you to the coach, the physio and all the people involved. It was really hard to do but it was for my friends and all my family. Deep down I was dying to cry.

"The whole fight wasn't going my way. I was raring to fire and put the shots in but the referee nearly disqualified me and I didn't think I was doing that much wrong. I wanted to attack but I got grabbed.

"It's ‘shoulda woulda coulda’, I'm an attacker and I gave it everything I've got. Maybe another day with another ref it would have been a whole different score.

"The last few hours have been hard, they tried to pick me up and said I'd have more regret not going for it. Now I can cry and let it all out but I had to hold it in as much as I could and just be professional."

Overall, Team GB's taekwondo fighters leave Tokyo with two silvers and a bronze. Bradly Sinden and Lauren Williams were both leading their final fights with eight seconds remaining, in addition to Walkden's last-gasp loss.

"The team was absolutely fantastic and we were so close to two golds, it shows how good this sport is and anything can happen, it's so fast and exciting to watch," added Walkden.

"Hopefully more people are invested in it but we should have come away with a lot more. Maybe we can get six qualifications in Paris and come away with six gold medals. We're definitely a team to watch.

"More people are realising how fast taekwondo is, it's not a coincidence or a curse. Everyone fights to the end, that should showcase the sport and show how quick and dynamic it is."