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Bradly Sinden misses out on first gold of Tokyo Olympics for Team GB in taekwondo

·3 min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

They call him the robot for his lack of emotion but, on the biggest day of his life, Bradly Sinden was finally human.

With gold within touching distance, he came up just short and the wait for Britain’s first gold will wait, now resting in the giant hands and flipper feet of Adam Peaty in the early hours of Monday.

But there was no shame in his Olympic silver on a night when teammate Jade Jones was supposed to own the arena. Instead, after her shock exit in the first round, she turned into his most vocal supporter.

As a 12-year-old, he had posed with another former British taekwondo medallist in Sarah Stevenson. While his fellow budding fighters were photographed with her Olympic bronze, Sinden instead chose her world championship gold, his thinking being that it was the colour medal he most wanted.

He achieved that feat with a world title at the age of 20 but two years on he failed in his quest for another gold, this time Olympic, after defeat to Ulugbek Rashitov, of Uzbekistan. In the process, he missed out on the opportunity of becoming the first British male in taekwondo to have achieved an Olympic title.

It was a silver first born from being dragged to watch his sister training in the sport. He would copy her kicks until the hyperactive child was first allowed a go aged six.

As he climbed up the ranks, mum Sheryl drove him the two hours to training from the family home in Doncaster to Manchester to train twice a week.

And on the biggest night of his career, in his corner, Sinden had arguably the most glorified of cheerleaders in Jones, who watched from the stands after the gold medal favourite’s earlier demise in her first-round bout.

Jones, who calls Sinden ‘robot’ because of his lack of emotion in competition, predicted her teammate would win gold but it did not quite work out that way.

No doubt Team Crazy, the family and friends who had watched all Jones’ previous Olympic performances, were still tuning in to the big screen they had erected in her aunt’s back garden in Flint for her predicted march to gold. Instead, it was Sinden that took the plaudits.

He had come back from the brink of defeat in his semi-final, recovering from a seven-point deficit against China’s Shuai Zhao.

And come the final an athlete, who trained in shipping container converted into a gym during the first lockdown, could not repeat it against the 19-year-old Rashitov, who had defeated the No1 seed, in a tight and thrilling contest, which Sinden twice led late on only to be denied.

From his opening bout, Sinden had been an aggressor, using his trademark head kick, a move which repeatedly paid off with great aplomb but his teenage opponent was marginally the bolder.

Afterwards, he said: “I think it was my gold medal to give away. Twice I had him, made mistakes and let him come back in. You’re here to get gold. Anything else here isn’t what we’re here to celebrate. I didn’t win gold when it was there for me to take.”

The silver marked the latest chapter in a success story that dates back to Stevenson’s early triumphs in the GB set-up. Now, there’s every chance she’ll be posing with her understudy and his medal.

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