World number one Amy Truesdale hopes performing on the “biggest stage in the world” can inspire others with disabilities to do the same after being confirmed in Great Britain’s maiden Paralympic taekwondo squad.
Taekwondo has been included on the Paralympic programme for the first time, with Truesdale qualifying for Tokyo alongside reigning world champion Matt Bush and rookie fighter Beth Munro.
The two-time world champion, who was born without a left hand, already has her eyes fixed on gold and is determined to help prevent people feeling defined by perceived limitations.
“I’m quite fortunate, I’ve been to lots of world championships but nothing is the same as a Paralympic Games – it’s just the biggest stage I am ever going to fight on,” the 32-year-old, who competes in the +58kg category, told the PA news agency.
“To medal there, it would be unbelievable, I think it would be quite a surreal situation but it would be the icing on the cake for me because it’s the only medal I am yet to achieve in my sporting career.
“Obviously I want to do well for myself but I want other people to realise that they don’t have to put limitations on themselves or allow other people to put limitations on them.
“If you have a goal in life, just because you have a different impairment or a different disability to other people you can (still) achieve whatever you want to achieve in life.
“Me performing on the biggest stage in the world will hopefully inspire others to do the same.”
Chester-born Truesdale, who claimed her second world title in London in 2017, took up the sport aged seven after her father encouraged her to do so as a means of self-defence.
She guaranteed her place on the plane for the Paralympics – which run from August 24 to September 5 – in 2019 courtesy of a European bronze and subsequent status as world number one.
It was a different scenario for team-mates Bush and Munro.
Their spots were only sealed earlier this month at the European Paralympic qualification tournament in Bulgaria which, remarkably, was also Munro’s first-ever international Para taekwondo competition.
Munro, who was set to study for a doctorate to become a clinical psychologist before taekwondo took precedence, admits it has been a whirlwind ride and is already enjoying learning from Truesdale.
“It has been a very fast-paced, intense period of my life with ups and downs but I am so thankful to be here. I cannot wait to get there with the team,” said the 27-year-old from Liverpool, who fights in the -58kg division.
“Amy is my role model in the sport. She is who I aim to be. If I can be as good as her one day then I have made it essentially – I will be at the best level I can aim to be at.”
Born and raised in south Wales, Bush became Britain’s first male Para taekwondo athlete to win a world championships by defeating Russian Zainutdin Ataev in 2019.
The 32-year-old, who competes in the +75kg weight division, switched to the sport in 2017 having previously tried Japanese and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, javelin and shotput.
“It feels awesome, it’s good to finally get the nod that I am going to Tokyo and it’s something to focus for now,” he said.
“Even though I am world champ, I am still not ranked number one. We’ve got a very competitive top of the division. I am confident I can go out there and win gold – every fight has got to be a good fight though.”