Bianca Walkden may be a three-time world champion, but she’s not even the most famous member of her own family.
“They passed me on Instagram followers, I was furious!” laughs it GB team taekwondo star of Grammy-nominated DJ duo CamelPhat, of which his brother Mike is half.
Walkden’s respectable 107,000 followers are now eclipsed by CamelPhat’s 274,000, who have gained worldwide fame since the release of their platinum hit Cola in 2017.
Taekwondo star Bianca Walkden wants to return from Tokyo as Olympic champion
“I don’t see him as a full-fledged superstar DJ, I just see him as my older brother,” says Walkden. “He’s a champion in his own world.
“They are world class and will be well known everywhere. I hope I can do it at the Olympics as well. ‘
You wouldn’t bet against it. Walkden travels to Tokyo as the reigning world champion, just as she did at Rio 2016 when she returned from the Games with a bronze medal in the +67 kg heavyweight category.
“I was devastated to get bronze in Rio last time around,” she told Sportsmail. “I hope to turn things around and become an Olympic champion.
The 29-year-old heads to Tokyo as the reigning world champion, just like she did at Rio 2016
This is the last medal I need. I have the rest. I have done this several times and just want to check off that last gold.
Walkden doesn’t have to look far for inspiration as her roommate is Jade Jones, the two-time Olympic champion who seeks to make history by winning a third gold medal in Tokyo.
In the first lockdown last year, the British pair converted their garage in Manchester into a makeshift taekwondo hall, with bags, cushions, mats, weights and bikes for opponents.
“Jade and I have been living together since 2010,” says Walkden. “We were locked up together, we trained together, played games, became kids again, tried to go through it like everyone else.
Walkden’s brother Mike (left) is one half of the Grammy-nominated DJ duo CamelPhat
“We took some of the equipment from the UK national center and converted the garage into a full taekwondo hall and practiced as much as possible. It was lucky that we had each other to practice.
“At first it was something new and it was pretty exciting. Then towards the end it was, “How long are we going to do this?” It’s a fairly small space. Are we going to train like this for the Olympics?
“When we got back to the national center it was good to start over and enjoy what we had in the gym, the open space, the other partners. I couldn’t have worked out in the garage the whole cycle.
In addition to Jones, Walkden had another helpful garage workout partner in boyfriend Aaron Cook, who moved in with the couple last year. Cook is best known for his controversial omission from the British squad for London 2012 when he was world No.1, which led him to defect to Moldova, which he represented at Rio 2016.
The 30-year-old failed to qualify for Tokyo, but if Walkden wins a medal, he will have had his say. “He’s the best training partner I’ve ever had,” admits Walkden. “We absolutely go for each other! I think that’s why we don’t argue because we let him out as much as possible in taekwondo. It’s like therapy! And then we come back to normal afterwards.
Walkden’s roommate is Jade Jones, who seeks to make history by winning a third gold medal
“He’s trying to make me the best taekwondo fighter I can be. I hope I’ll never fight a girl as good as him, but if I do, he prepared me for it, so I can’t thank him enough.
Walkden will be without Cook and his family in Tokyo, with foreign supporters banned from the Games. There will however be up to 5,000 domestic fans in attendance at Makuhari Messe Hall, with a capacity of 10,000, where taekwondo will take place.
“The fact that there is a crowd there, they will try to support all the athletes,” adds Walkden. “My family will be cheering me on at home. I could just get some family photos and stick them on my wall.
“I’d rather it continue than not at all. The worst thing that could have happened was that it got canceled because I don’t know how long we could have trained with this intensity.
“I can’t wait to go and try to get this gold medal. I will just have to come back and show my family what I won.