“If you have a dream and you are given the opportunity to live out that dream, and you have the focus and determination, then you can achieve it.”

Beth Munro thinks big and could be forgiven if she is still pinching herself after sealing her place on the ParalympicsGB team bound for Tokyo this summer in a winner-takes-all qualifying competition in Hungary earlier this month.

The 27-year-old only took up Para taekwondo in 2019 but her unfailing commitment and dedication to the sport in the months since paid dividends at her first international competition, when she saw off her opposition with a convincing win.

Munro and teammate Amy Truesdale putting the work in

“It was an amazing surreal experience after training so intensely with the coach and the rest of the team. Just knowing that winning that one match would get me to Tokyo – it was just pure elation,” says Munro.

While she may have lacked previous competition experience, the Liverpudlian had left no stone unturned in her bid to make the ParalympicsGB team since joining the GB Taekwondo squad full-time at their Manchester headquarters earlier this year.

“These last 11 weeks have shown just how focused and homed-in I can be – and just how much I can put into something,” explains Munro, who, prior to taking up Para taekwondo, played netball in the top division in her area. “It’s made me realise how determined I am – and that if I want something I have the focus and can do it.”

With a Masters’ degree in Health Psychology, Munro is also well placed to ensure she has the mental strength to succeed.

“Definitely having that background in psychology has helped,” agrees Munro. “I think my positive mental state was an extra boost on top of my game plan.

“I knew exactly what my strengths and weaknesses were. I knew what I had to focus on. You play to your strengths, so having that focus and determination, knowing tactics and techniques and having a game plan - I didn’t have doubt in myself. You go in with the confidence – not the arrogance – that you want to win and you picture yourself winning.”

There’s no doubt too that Munro’s natural athleticism and sporting background have also helped her progress at such an impressive pace.

“There are a lot of transferable skills from netball,” acknowledges Munro, who played, coached and umpired netball for a number of years. “Reaction times, foot work, speed and agility are all important in netball and in Para taekwondo. Even when it comes to blocking – the speed I can block certain kicks comes from my netball.

The three selected athletes for Tokyo 2020

“I won’t lie though - I can’t fully do the splits and that’s something I have to work on! But it’s been a great challenge going to something so new. There’s a lot to learn. I love a good challenge and I hope I will succeed. This is my life now and I absolutely love that I can train as a full-time athlete – people dream of this.”

While Munro may be a relative newcomer to the sport, the Paralympic Games will be a new experience for all those competing in Para taekwondo, as the sport joins the Paralympic programme for the first time at Tokyo 2020.

“We’ve all made history as the first in our classes to take part at the Games. The fact I’ve made history is amazing and slightly surreal. I’m still in a slight dream - and it makes me so proud to represent my country when it comes around in August.

“I do have moments when I sit down and reflect and think, ‘you’re going to Tokyo. It’s actually happening’. Those moments I have to pinch myself, but now I have a new focus. The fact I’ve got to Tokyo is an achievement in itself so I’m going to thoroughly enjoy every moment that I’m there. My aim is to medal – that is my focus now.”

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