GB's Martin Stamper hails fatherhood as key to success

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter

World Championships bronze medallist Martin Stamperexternal-link says fatherhood has been key to his recent success.

The 24-year-old has won both the US and German Open titles since his daughter, Ava, was born in August last year.

"It can be really hard when I go away, but it's very rewarding when you've done well, you come home and your family is waiting," said Stamper.

The fighter's -68kg category is one of four weight divisions British Taekwondo has selected for the London Games.

Stamper was a European junior silver medallist back in 2001 and he repeated that feat in the senior ranks in Rome in 2008.

However, a relatively lean international period followed - he won a soletary bronze at the 2009 Paris Open - before his excellent start to this campaign.

"Last year when she [Ava] was born I had some time off and then I didn't have great preparations for the British Open, which showed, but then I started to get things together," Stamper told BBC Sport.

"My girlfriend [Amy] is amazing!"

"Amy makes sure I get a good night's sleep when I need it and if Ava's not well she'll make sure she looks after her and that I don't get sick.

"When I'm in training I am fully focused on that and I don't think about my family, but as soon as I'm away from the sport I don't think about taekwondo, so it's a good balance for me to have," stated Stamper.

The Liverpudlian's only defeat this year was in the World Championships semi-finals and came at the hands of defending champion and eventual silver medallist Mohammad Bagheri Motamed of Iran.

However, the convincing 15-2 scoreline aaginst Stamper left him with much to think about.

"Even now the semi-final gets to me," Stamper reflected.

"In the US and German Opens I'd felt really good and it showed with victories in both, but at the worlds for some reason despite great training and great preparation I didn't feel in top shape.

"So I have to be happy at coming away with a bronze medal, but the one really good thing to take away from Korea was knowing what I need to do now for 2012," said Stamper.

He hopes a little more flexibility, fitness and strength training will help him stay ahead of the other British contenders hoping to make the -68kg Olympic spot their own.

World silver medallist Michael Harveyexternal-link, who competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and British Open Champion Tony Grismanexternal-link, who defeated Stamper's world championship conquerer Bagheri Motamed last year, are his most likely challengers.

"For the last two years or so the -68's have been really competitive and it's been tough to get selected for the major events," Stamper added.

"With Jordan Gayleexternal-link coming back from injury I'll have three challengers and whilst they're all friends and all team mates, I'm happy to fight them and do better to ensure I get that number one spot."

Although Beijing Olympian Harvey attained a higher finish in Korea than any other GB male, his -62kg division is not one of the Olympic classes and therefore he will now have to bulk up if he is to rival Stamper and Grisman.

"It's a very strong category for us," said British Taekwondo performance director Gary Hall.

"Tony Grisman, Michael Harvey, Martin Stamper and Jordan Gayle all have the potential to take that place, they won't make it easy for us, but it's a great position for the British team to be in."

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