Sarah Stevenson hails her late mother's strength

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Sarah Stevenson
Happier times, Stevenson celebrates Olympic bronze with her family in 2008

World champion Sarah Stevenson has paid tribute to her mother, who has lost a battle with cancer.

Diana, 63, was diagnosed with the terminal condition in January and passed away surrounded by family at St John's Hospice, Doncaster on Wednesday.

Just three months ago, Stevenson also lost her father who had a brain tumour.

"She has shown amazing strength over this past year but now she has no more pain and is reunited with my dad Roy, her soulmate," said Stevenson.

The 2008 Olympic Games bronze medallist described Wednesday "as the saddest day of my life."

Stevenson agonised over whether to travel to Korea for the World Championships last May.

However, with backing from both her mother and father, the 28-year-old made the journey and battled her way to an emotional gold medal.

Great Britain Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall said: "My thoughts and those of the GB Taekwondo team and staff are with Sarah and her family at this time.

"We know that Sarah's mother and father were great people and a major inspiration for Sarah in helping her achieve so much. Both Diana and Roy will be greatly missed."

Stevenson will spend some time away from the sport to be with her family, but acknowledged those who have supported them over the last year.

"I'd like to thank everyone who has supported my family through this very difficult time, particularly staff at St John's and the Sheffield Hallamshire Hospital," she said.

"I would also really like to thanks my friends and family who have been amazing, and all the staff and athletes at GB Taekwondo."

The family have requested privacyexternal-link over the coming weeks whilst they come to terms with their loss.

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