Doncaster Olympian kicks her way to Freedom

Olympic Taekwondo bronze medalist Sarah Stevenson.
Olympic Taekwondo bronze medalist Sarah Stevenson.

Doncaster’s Olympic taekwondo star Sarah Stevenson has been awarded another honour – the Freedom of the Borough.

She becomes the 12th Doncastrian to receive the highest honour a local resident can receive and it recognises Sarah’s sporting achievements and work in the community.

After it was approved at the full council meeting, Sarah, aged 30, pictured, said: “It is one of those achievements that is right up there with other achievements in my life and I am very proud.

“I am really honoured that I have been chosen to receive this as being born and raised in Doncaster has made me who I am.”

And on Facebook she wrote: “Pretty awesome news! Wow what an absolute honour, I am so proud to be a Donny girl. Speechless.”

Civic Mayor Coun Eddie Dobbs said: “It is very rare that we honour people with the Freeman of the Borough, but in this case Sarah is a very worthy recipient – and we wish her good luck for the future.”

Brought up in Bentley, Sarah is arguably the most successful GB Taekwondo athlete in history and won a bronze Olympic medal. Despite an injury and the sad loss of both parents in 2011, she led the GB Taekwondo Team at the London 2012 Olympics and was chosen to recite the Athletes’ Oath.

Sarah was honoured with an Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University and the MBE during 2012. The profile of Taekwondo across Britain has been raised as a direct result of Sarah’s success.

Sarah continues to provide inspiration to young people in Doncaster and is an ambassador for sport to local schools and martial arts clubs across the Borough. She is currently involved in the ’Battle for Brazil’ initiative, identifying talented young people to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and is a member of the Olympic Taekwondo Coaching Squad.

Sarah actively supports Grief Encounter, a charity dedicated to helping families address issues caused by bereavement; Balls to Cancer, a charity that is researching causes of male cancer, St John’s Hospice and Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.

Gary Sykes coached Sarah from six-years-old at the Allstar Taekwondo Academy at Lakeside in Doncaster – and took her to the Sydney Olympics.

He said: “Sarah was always a hard worker and very determined and what she has gone on to achieve is just fantastic.

“She has had to overcome lots of challenges throughout her career, including loss and injuries but despite this she has been to four Olympics. She has also given back tremendously with her work in the borough. What she has achieved for Doncaster is brilliant.”

The Freedom of the Borough is purely an honorary title and authorities are able to bestow it on individuals who have provided exceptional service to their town or enhanced its reputation through their actions.