Lauren Williams: Olympic taekwondo gold would repay parents' sacrifice'

Lauren Williams
Lauren Williams claimed European 67kg gold with victory over Turkey's Nur Tatar in May

European taekwondo champion Lauren Williams says winning an Olympic gold medal would be the only way she could repay her family.

Her mother Tanya took a career break to move closer to the training base in Manchester and the pair moved into a caravan.

The 17-year-old from Blackwood claimed a second world junior title and said she owes her success to her parents.

"I don't think I can ever repay my mother," Williams told BBC Wales Sport.

"The only way I can repay her is with an Olympic gold medal. She's been amazing. She left my dad in Wales with my sister. It was tough but we made it work.

"I didn't expect them to sacrifice as much as they have to make sure I could live my dream.

"I completely admire them. There aren't many parents who would sacrifice as much as they have."

Welsh Inspiration

Williams, who is now old enough to live with the other athletes, must have a lucky association with caravans.

A kick boxer since the age of three, it was during a family holiday that she first considered taking up taekwondo after watching fellow Welsh fighter Jade Jones winning Olympic gold at London 2012.

"I was with my mum and dad on a caravan holiday when the Olympics came on," Williams told BBC Wales Sport.

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Williams wins Euro gold in final round

"We only caught the last 30 seconds of Jade Jones' fight. My dad turned to me and said 'is that what you want to do? That could be you.'

"I watched her take gold and my dream changed. There and then."

Soon after, she moved to Manchester with her mother who spent 18 months away from the family home and Williams admits the transition was not easy.

"I regretted it to start with, I thought this is too hard. I was watching Jade in training thinking I'm never going to be like that, I'm not as fast and I'm not as strong

"But six months in I went to the Junior World Championships and I won. I was buzzing. I thought I could actually make something of this."

Olympic Ambitions

As well as a European title, Williams also claimed two golds this year at both the Polish and Greece Open but admits her focus is making the team for Tokyo 2020.

Jade Jones
Jade Jones retained her Olympic taekwondo title at Rio 2016

"My next big aim is senior World Championships next year," Williams said.

"If I can't get a medal there it will set me up for Tokyo. I do think about being on that podium with a gold medal around my neck but realistically I need to take it step by step."

Only two female fighters and two male fighters can qualify for Team GB for Tokyo but Williams insists having Jade Jones and Bianca Walkden currently in the top six only serves as added motivation.

"When I saw Jade in Rio, I was thinking I'm not far off them, I could do exactly the same, I could get a gold medal myself," she added.

"That's the biggest thing I learnt, it was just like any other competition. Seeing her first hand set me up and made me think I really want to do it myself."

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