Bianca Walkden is officially the best female taekwondo fighter on the planet after being feted at the World Taekwondo annual awards’ ceremony in Abidjan, Ivory Coast last night (Monday).
Forty-eight hours after completing an unprecedented Grand Slam of four World Grand Prix titles in 2017, Walkden, 26, was named WT Athlete of the Year.
In doing so, the Liverpool born heavyweight succeeds GB team mate, Jade Jones, who received the honour 12 months ago.
Double World Champion Walkden, now coached by fellow Liverpudlian, Martin Stamper, defeated South Korea’s Da-Bin Lee last Saturday to follow up this year’s Grand Prix successes in Moscow, Rabat and London.
“Bianca has enjoyed an outstanding year,” said GB Performance Director, Gary Hall.
“It’s been an incredible challenge because no one else in history before had managed what she has achieved.
“To maintain such a high standard is credit to her and her professionalism.
“For Bianca, it’s all about being better each time she competes,” added Hall. “So, every time she wins she boxes it off and moves on.”
Hall agrees Walkden could have gone two ways after-for her-the disappointment of only winning a bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
“It would have been easy for ‘B’ to feel sorry for herself,” he said.
“But she has switched up and keeps setting new targets. She wants to win a third successive World title in 2019 which no one has done before.
“And then she wants to go to Tokyo 2020 and win that Olympic gold medal.”
Walkden admitted:” I didn’t think I would be this emotional. So, I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and believed in me.”
The Manchester trained GB team finished third in the overall Grand Prix medal standings for 2017, headed only by South Korea and Russia.
“It’s been an outstanding team performance from every angle,” added Hall.
“The year after an Olympic Games can nearly always be a bit of a downer in terms of performance. But this team is full of incredibly talented athletes and staff.
“So, to finish third behind the Koreans and Russians who nearly always have a team double the size of ours is outstanding.”
South Korea topped the table with 27 medals, nine of them gold. Russia won 15 medals to GB’s 12 but gained four fewer gold medals.