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Change is guaranteed ahead of this summer’s Olympics, but double medallist Lutalo Muhammad is anticipating the ‘greatest Games of all time’ in Tokyo, writes Peter White.
Crowds have played a major part in his two appearances on sport’s biggest stage so far, with home support roaring him on to taekwondo 80kg bronze at London 2012, before he fell to an agonising last-second defeat in the final in Rio four years later.
With Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto expected to deliver an update on overseas spectators before the end of March, in the wake of restrictions due to Covid-19, Muhammad admits things are likely to feel very different this time around if fans aren’t allowed.
But having previously visited Japan, he is confident the rescheduled Olympic Games will bring the whole world together in celebration, while he is looking to cap the occasion by completing his medal set with gold.
“It’s not going to be the same [if fans aren’t allowed] - the fans are what make it an Olympics but it will still be very special,” said Muhammad, who is helping Purplebricks encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo.
“My biggest takeaway from my two Olympics appearances was the deafening noise while I was in the ring, and the social aspect of being able to mingle with superstars from other sports, but with the year we have all had it is certainly going to be an amazing occasion, and likely the most memorable Games ever”.
“Japan is such a magical place, and I’m a huge fan of the manga and the anime. I’m sure they’ll have plenty of surprises in store to really give us that Olympic experience, and I’m sure topping that podium will still feel as special!”
One of the biggest disappointments for Muhammad might be the absence of his father Wayne at ringside in Japan, but the 2012 European middleweight champion knows those closest to him will be merely a click away.
He said: “My dad is my biggest influence - he’s the one who introduced me to taekwondo, and he stills runs a taekwondo school in London. He still gives me tips and pointers before my fights.
“It would be great to have my family out there, but like the rest of the world I’ve learnt that Zoom is actually pretty good. There’ll be a lot of video calling and engaging on social media, so we’ll all still be able to stay connected.”
While staying in touch with those nearest and dearest, Muhammad is backing Purplebricks’ Home Support campaign, which encourages the nation to show their support for Team GB on their journey to Tokyo 2020.
“As my career has gone on, I still think back to my experiences in London, because that home support really changed me for the better and shaped me into who I am today,” added Muhammad, who was at the reveal of a Purplebricks sales board in Manchester, the first in the city to be adorned by one of three inspiring artworks commissioned to rally support for Team GB.
“It’s been amazing to see the artwork come to life, because it definitely encapsulates the feeling of an Olympics and seeing the boards has definitely reignited the fire in our bellies.”
Lutalo Muhammad is helping Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK. To enter the draw to receive one of 2,020 limited edition prints, visit https://page.purplebricks.co.uk/teamgb_homesupport/