How Aussie overcame huge Olympic selection drama
After being one of the most controversial choices on Australia’s Olympic team, Stacey Hymer says she’s ready to show why she deserved a spot all along.
With one word, Stacey Hymer summed up why she was selected in Australia’s taekwondo four-person team: “results”.
Hymer’s’ selection ahead of triple Olympian Carmen Marton – Australia’s first taekwondo world champion after winning the lightweight gold at the world titles – rocked the boat.
Marton appealed the decision and later won her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The CAS referred the matter back to selectors, but they stuck with Hymer.
Making the selection controversy all the more awkward is Marton’s brother is one of two males on the team, with the other her long-time partner Safwan Khalil.
All the way through Hymer has kept her head down.
“I think there were three of us in the running and they went through every athlete and they came to that conclusion,” Hymer told News Corp on the eve of her Olympic debut.
“I’m very proud of myself and what I’ve got through.
“It hasn’t been an easy journey but we’ve actually done really well at handling everything and I give myself a pat on the back because in the end results showed I am a good fighter and I’m ready for this.”
Marton and Hymer have not spoken, but she admits you “can’t take it personally”.
On Sunday, the 22-year-old university student from Victoria whose background is Green and Albanian, gets to show the world what she is capable of.
“I had results. I’ve won medals at big events,” she says.
“I did well against good competitors with higher rankings, so I’ve always fought well against big competition which was important and I was able to show I was a good fighter.”
Hymer’s frizzy hair might be wilder than the journey to get to Tokyo, but she is as calm as the Japanese national anthem.
On Friday she spoke with Australian Olympic champion Susie O’Neill, who carried the weight of the nation on her shoulders in the Sydney Games
The Australian Deputy Chef de Mission’s words will undoubtedly comfort her.
But this is a sport she has been playing since she was four.
Pretty on the outside, Hymer kicks with a sting.
In a dangerous sport where she’s broken a training partner’s nose and “knocked out people,” Hymer is not in Tokyo just for the experience.
“I’m there to score and to win, but after it I’ll go up to them and check if they’re all right,” she says.
“I don’t want to knock someone out, but the force of your kick is going to.”
Hymer faces Canadian Skyler Park in her opening round of 16 match, with a difficult date with South Korean star Ahreum Lee awaiting should she progress through to the quarter-finals.
“I think if I stick to my good game plan I will be a chance,” she says.
“I’ve studied a lot of the fighters coming in, so working out tactics with tackling every fighter. It’s about pulling out moves and weapons and the useful ones.”