Lutalo Muhammad is determined not to let one second define an entire Olympics career as he looks to bounce back from heartbreak in Rio and claim gold in Tokyo this summer.
Muhammad was moments away from standing on top of the podium in 2016 but a last-gasp spinning hook kick from Ivorian Cheick Sallah Cisse meant the Team GB star had to settle for taekwondo silver.
Now the Walthamstow warrior believes everything's coming together at the right time in his quest for a third medal in as many Olympic Games, having also claimed bronze at London 2012.
“I feel amazing,” said Muhammad, who was speaking at a SportsAid event dedicated to championing the parents and guardians of talented young athletes. “I guess I’m now a veteran of two Olympics, which feels very weird to say.
“The gold medal is what it’s all about so that’s really what’s been motivating me, what’s been driving me and what’s been keeping me going.”
Reflecting on the memories of Rio four years ago, Muhammad said: “It’s a bit of a weird one, because at the time it was devastating.
“Coming so close to accomplishing such a massive goal of winning the gold medal, yeah it was painful at the time.
“Now I can appreciate it for what it was, which was a terrific fight. It would be foolish of me to let one second define my entire Olympics career.
“I believe the best is yet to come. I like to think I’m still young and I still have more in me.”
The 28-year-old has moved up a weight division to the heavyweight +80kg category since earning silver in 2016 – a move Muhammad describes as a “blessing for my career”.
“It’s a new challenge and something I enjoy a lot,” he said. “Also, I can afford to eat a few pies now so it’s not all too bad!
“The biggest difference is the size, strength and power department. I’ve fought men who are 110, 120 kilos, so these are big boys. I have to be on my A-game, but I’m enjoying it.
“I have advantages from moving up from welterweight, like my speed and dynamic power, so I just need to float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
“I beat some very good people on my way to gold at the French Open in November and I’m just keen to keep that form going this year.
“Everything is focused towards the Olympics, so everything I do is just one step closer to that ultimate goal.”
SportsAid supports the most promising young British athletes by providing them with a financial award, recognition and personal development opportunities during the critical early stages of their careers. Please visit www.sportsaid.org.uk to find out how you can help the charity support the country’s next generation of sporting heroes!