We caught up with the bearded Team GB Taekwondo athlete Damon Sansum. Check out his interview where we discussed beards, Rio 2016, medals and #fearthebeard.
Damon, you’ve got a great beard on you- do you have a special regime or favourite products, perhaps a particular barber?
Thanks Bianca! As a full-time athlete I train 2-3 times a day, so maintaining a well-groomed beard proves to be tricky (laughs). However, when my beard is not full of sweat, I am an ambassador for Beard Brand and I really like their beard oils. I also take frequent trips to my barber Tony at Barbers Boutique, Manchester.
How long have you been tending to your beard?
I’ve had a beard for just over two years. Me and my good friend decided to grow one on the plane back from a stag do, and I haven’t looked back since!
How does your girlfriend feel about your whiskers?
She loves it. A man that shaves his beard for a woman deserves neither his beard nor the woman.
Would you say you’re one of the few Taekwondo contenders you’ve met with a beard?
Yes definitely. I’ve not come across anyone yet, but if I did we’d have to fight it out!!
What’s your take on the recent rise of the beard?
I think it’s really cool. I live in Manchester and there is definitely a beard scene going on here.
How is training going, and what’s your plan to become part of Team GB at Rio next year? You’ve already bagged yourself 3 bronzes and 2 golds in 2015 and it’s only April!
Training has been going really well at the moment, and my results have reflected that in competition. My next goal is to medal at the coming World Championships in Russia and then to be selected for the Olympic Team.I’m feeling really good 5 weeks out, and I’m really looking forward to stepping in the ring.
I’d love the opportunity to represent GB at the most prestigious sporting event in the world. The prospect excites me greatly! So if I’m the man for the job, you will be seeing the beard in Rio #fearthebeard
You’re from Germany but call Scotland your home- and now you’re based in Manchester. So when did your Taekwondo career start? How were you involved with the Fighting Chance Talent Programme?
I originally began my martial arts career at the age of 11. I can remember my dad teaching me my first lesson in our living room in a remote town in the Scottish Highlands. Twelve years later and several major kickboxing titles to my name, I stumbled across Olympic Taekwondo.
I applied to Fighting Chance, an initiative by UK Sport, set up to find talent from other martial arts such as kickboxing, Muay Thai and Kung Fu. After auditions, fight days and a boot camp (like X Factor but instead of singing we were kicking each other in the face! (laughs!)) I was asked to join the GB Olympic Team.
Finally, your life revolves around your passion for martial arts and Taekwondo- why should we be getting more involved with the sport?
Taekwondo is a great sport to be involved with. I think martial arts in general are very unique. Not only is it great for fitness, but it’s a way of life. The focus, discipline and respect learned through martial arts has shaped me into who I am today, as well as providing me with a great bunch of friends who I see as my external family.