Lauren Burns created sporting history by winning the first ever Olympic medal for Taekwondo when the sport made its debut at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
Lauren was one of only three Australian women to win an individual Olympic Gold Medal, along with Cathy Freeman and Susie O Neill. Her amazing triumph was achieved against the odds requiring enormous discipline, commitment, perseverance and teamwork.
The nation watched as Lauren’s victory brought the Australian public and Olympic crowd to its feet. Before her Olympic win, few people knew that Lauren had been 12 times Australian Champion and had achieved a string of international titles including numerous medals at world championship level. Since the Sydney Olympics, Lauren has emerged as one of the most successful Olympians from these Games.
How it all began…
After growing up without much involvement in sport it was a surprise to Lauren’s friends when she took up taekwondo at the age of fourteen. Enthusiasm to attend her first lesson was spurred on by her brother Michael who started at age seven motivated to learn the skills of the ’80’s craze “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Lauren, Michael and their father Ronnie all attended regular classes but it was Lauren that got a taste for the competitive side of taekwondo.
Lauren’s focus and determination strengthened as her desire to become a better taekwondo player grew. In 1994 taekwondo was announced as an Olympic sport and Korean coach Jintae Jeong was appointed National coach. Although Lauren had been on many national teams her commitment to the sport became paramount with this announcement and her goal of making the Olympic team in the -49kg division was strong in mind.
At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, this dream was realised and Lauren Burns became the first ever gold medal winner in the sport of taekwondo.
“I just felt tonight that all my competitors were tough, they were the best in the world and I had to go out and give it everything I had… I had to give it heart, give it soul, give it passion and the Australian crowd really helped to lift me up… The energy was incredible.”