HAVING spent much of the pandemic helping out with his family’s dairy distribution business, Tokyo-bound para-taekwondo star Matt Bush is hoping to be the cream of the crop at this summer’s rescheduled Games. 

The 32-year-old from Pembrokeshire will make his first appearance on sport’s greatest stage in Japan, after being officially named alongside Amy Truesdale and Beth Munro in the ParalympicsGB taekwondo squad. 

Gold at the 2019 World Championships saw Bush truly announce himself to a sport he had only committed to two years earlier, and the Haverfordwest native reckons an extra year to refine his skills stands his podium-topping ambitions in good stead. 

Victory at the European qualification event earlier this month marked the perfect return to competition, and Bush believes a healthy balance of life on and off the mat is key to his sparkling form. 

“It’s awesome to have my selection for Tokyo confirmed - the overriding goal since I first started taekwondo has been to go to the Games and gold is certainly what I’m aiming for,” said Bush, who is one of over 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme. 

“Because I came into the sport so green I think I’m getting better every day - even now. I wasn’t really a taekwondo player when I won the worlds, but I managed to impose my greatest strengths, such as my athleticism and physicality, and make it work. 

“I think the extra year has helped me keep improving, and I’m definitely the best I’ve ever been right now. During the pandemic I’ve been training at home and helping my family out with the business. 

“It’s been a busy time delivering butter and cheese to shops and people within the local community, but I enjoy it because it’s good for me psychologically. I’ve burnt out doing other sports before, and I think it’s important to mix things up.” 

Bush’s hopes of adding to the 864 Olympic and Paralympic medals won by Great Britain and Northern Ireland athletes since the advent of National Lottery funding in 1997 are fuelled by the support he receives from UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme – which allows him to train full-time, access the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

Formerly Britain’s top male thrower in the F46 javelin, injury ruled Bush out of a possible appearance in Rio five years ago while he has also tried his hand at Japanese and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and shot put. 

Bush is a proven fast learner with no plans to slow down - he also hasn’t ruled out re-appearing on the Paralympic stage in four years’ time in an entirely different discipline. 

He added: “If someone had said to me five years ago that taekwondo would be making its Games debut in Tokyo and I’d be part of it, I actually probably would have believed them. 

“I’ve done so many different sports at different times in my life, and I think they transfer to each other. Even if they seem distant from the outside I think the mental and physical lessons you learn apply elsewhere. 

“I was keen to trial for shot put for Tokyo too, but I wasn’t able to get to the event. At the moment I’m focusing on taekwondo in Tokyo, but we’ll see what lies in store in the future.” 

No one does more to support our Olympic and Paralympic athletes than National Lottery players, who raise around £30 million each week for good causes. Discover the positive impact playing the National Lottery has on sport at www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved by using the hashtags: #TNLAthletes #TracktoTokyo