Liverpool’s Martin Stamper was unfortunate not to get his hands on a medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

He reached the semi-finals of the men’s 68kg Taekwondo competition.

The 33-year-old fell to a 9-6 defeat against the highest seed and eventual gold medal winner Servet Tazegül, before losing in a repêchage match to Afghanistan’s Rohullah Nikpai.

During a professional career that spanned over 10 years, Stamper won a bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea.

He claimed title wins at the US, German and British Opens and he picked up silver and bronze medals at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, respectively.

He announced his retirement in 2015 after missing out on a place at the Rio Olympics but has since turned his attention to coaching.

Merseysportlive spoke to him to find out how his coaching career is going and what his experience of competing at a home Olympics was like.

So, how did you get into taekwondo in the first place?
“I was six years old and my mum got fed up with me in the house. She took me over to the local taekwondo club in Dovecot where I grew up and I loved it pretty much from then.”

What was the highlight of your professional career and why?
“It would probably have to be competing at the 2012 Olympic Games. The feeling I had when walking out in front of thousands of people shouting and screaming my name was unbelievable and it’s something I still get chills thinking about now.”

What was it like to compete at a home Olympics?
“Amazing! It was so nice to have my family there, especially my daughter who was two years old at the time. It’s something I will never forget.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a medal and it took me a while to get over. But reflecting back, it was such an amazing experience and an achievement to compete at a home Olympic Games.”

How has life changed since your retirement from competing?
“Honestly not much. I retired and two weeks later I was back in the same gym working with all the same people but as a coach.
“I still travel all over the world with the team and I have a very similar schedule when I am at home. My body is a lot less tired and banged up and I can eat and drink whatever I want which is obviously a big plus.”

How’s the coaching going?
“It’s going really well. I have always had a passion for coaching and knew when I retired it was something I wanted to go in to.
“I didn’t think I would be coaching at this level so quickly but I love the challenge and I have managed to coach and help create some world class athletes in the last four years.”

What are the highlights of your coaching career?
“My highlights are coaching Damon Sansum to a World Championship medal and Grand Prix medals towards the end of his career and coaching Bradly Sinden to become the first male World Champion for Great Britain and secure a spot for Tokyo 2020.
“When I retired, I realised I had more of an appreciation for how much work a coach puts in outside of the gym. It can be a tough job but it’s also very rewarding when you see your athletes developing and fulfilling their potential.
“I’ve put a lot of work in to get where I am but I’m fortunate that I enjoy coming to work and I have such a passion for what I do for a living.”

(Martin Stamper (right) alongside Bradly Sinden)

Do you miss competing?
“Yes, I absolutely loved competing. I still feel a little sad at times that I won’t step in the ring at that level again.
“I still get involved the odd time in training which I enjoy but I’m getting old now so my body lets me know when I get carried away.”

Other than taekwondo, what things are most important to you and why?
“Obviously my family is most important to me, especially my three biggest supporters: my wife, my daughter and my son. They are always there to make me smile even if training or a competition hasn’t gone so well.
“Taekwondo is basically a part of who I am and has been a big part in my life for the last 20 plus years. It’s not just important for the medals I have won or what my athletes have won but for giving me a career in something that I have such a passion for.
“I also enjoy playing poker, but I don’t get a chance to play that much being so busy with work and family. I love the tactical side of reading people and analysing situations before you make decisions. I’ve played in Las Vegas a few times, but I would love to play the WSOP main event someday so if anyone has a spare 10 thousand dollars let me know.”

(Pictures from Martin Stamper social media under CC Licence)