Olympic gold consumed taekwondo champion

Lauren Burns is still the only Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.
Lauren Burns is still the only Australian to win an Olympic gold medal.

Lauren Burns was in a bubble, 20 years before COVID-19.

Not to protect her against any deadly virus, but to secure an Olympic gold medal - and it worked a treat.

In a life changer, Australia's only Olympic taekwondo champion never expected anything less than victory on that Sydney spring day in 2000.

"I was only going there to win gold," Burns told AAP.

"One of the things about the Olympic Games is that it really brings out the spirit. We talk about it in martial arts - the indomitable spirit - you have to have that sense of putting everything on the line to win gold.

"And I really felt like that was the case with me. It was just everything and I put everything into every one of those fights."

So much so that Burns was unable to really savour the moment when she beat Cuban Urbia Melendez in the final.

"The Sydney Games were just unbelievable because they were so colourful and joyous and sunshiney and bright,' said the now 46-year-old.

"I have so many great memories of that whole time.

"But for me personally I feel like I didn't get to enjoy a lot of stuff that was going on because I was just so focused.

"I could see all of that happening and all the people out and watching the Games and all the screens broadcast everywhere and all the volunteers were just so incredible.

"But I was very focused."

Burns, though, wouldn' change a thing.

"I had been just focused on that gold for so long so it was amazing to actually have that realised. It changed my life," she said.

Her parents, Ronnie Burns and Maggie Stewart, were famous singers and entertainers but Burns never for a minute considered going down that path.

But the women's under-49kg taekwondo Olympic champion does suspect her mother's genes played a small part in her sporting success.

"There's actually some similarities with my mum. I never thought there was but the high kicks and the dedication of being a professional dancer is certainly there," Burns said.

"They were working in television and there was a lot of media around at home and a lot of different things going on so that was pretty much normality.

"And when mum was doing Young Talent Time, we'd hang out at the tele every Saturday and mooch around whatever she was doing.

"But I never thought about getting involved in that area. When I was doing taekwondo, it wasn't for any fame. It was just because I loved it so much. I was just hooked."

Australian Associated Press