Jade Jones dreams of Olympics double in Rio
London 2012 taekwondo golden girl Jade Jones is bracing herself for her first foreign Olympics experience in Rio later this year as she aims to defend her title.
Jones became one of the Team GB success stories of the last Olympics when she claimed gold as a 19-year-old in London.
The Flint ace is nicknamed the ‘headhunter’ because of her trademark kicks. But Jones knows she will become the headhunted in Brazil this summer as she recognises she won’t have the benefits of home comforts and support this time around during an interview with Gareth Griffiths on the Wales Online newspaper.
“Everyone who I speak to who has been to a few Olympics says that every Games is a different experience,” said Jones.
“Last time in London I think I did well because all the home crowd were amazing.
“It will be a lot different this time and maybe there will be some people shouting against you rather than cheering you on.
“But my family and friends are going so it should be okay and I am also used to competing abroad.”
Jones admitted she can’t believe Olympic year had come around so quickly.
“It’s mad,” reflected Jones.
“You know it is creeping up as you get to the end of December but as soon as it hits 2016, it’s a totally different feeling.
“I switch on and the Olympics is the pinnacle. It’s the one I want to win although I know I will be the one people are targeting this time.
“It’s also been a bit different this time because I have done the whole cycle. It has been a long road and a lot of training for just one competition.
“It feels just around the corner but it’s also crazy it has been almost four years since London.
“I can remember this period when it was seven months to go before the last Olympics and it feels exactly the same.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time and just driven every day in training.
“It is nerve racking but I am looking forward to having the chance of becoming double Olympic champion.”
Jones spent last year chasing ranking points and finished 2015 as the world number one after securing a quota spot for Great Britain in the -57kg category at Rio, which will almost certainly be taken up by the Welsh woman.
It was a mixed 2015 which included winning seven golds in nine events including being crowned European Games champion and winning both the Manchester and Samsun Grand Prix’s.
But Jones was eliminated in the world championships quarter-finals after controversially losing following a scoreboard malfunction and settled for bronze at the World Taekwondo Grand Prix Finals in Mexico City last month.
“It was a decent year although I missed out on the World Championships,” said Jones.
“I learned a lot of lessons and those times that I have lost, it has because I have made little mistakes.
“But overall I proved I am in a good place and still have the ability to win Olympic gold again in Rio.
“I will make sure I maximise this training now to ensure I am strong on the day which is the most important thing.”
Safe in the knowledge she should be destined for Rio, Jones will spend the next three months training at the new state-of-the-art GB Taekwondo base in Manchester.
“Last year was all about ranking points and we have qualified now so this year I’m trying not to do as many competitions,” explained Jones.
“I have a lot of training now over the next three months and my first competition will be the Dutch Open in March.
“The Europeans follow in May and then it’s the Olympics.
“There is going to be a lot of solid training and I’m looking forward to that and developing.
“There is still seven months to go and I can still improve and it’s now about fine tuning.
“We have just moved into a new facility in Manchester which is amazing.
“We have got physios, nutritionists, a weights room, the taekwondo facilities and the offices all under one roof.
“Without the Lottery funding we would not be able to train as hard as we can or get to live in Manchester and have everything there for us.
“To be able to focus on just taekwondo is wonderful.”