‘TRUE CHAMPION’ JADE READY FOR OLYMPIC TITLE DEFENCE
Jade Jones will always be known as Team GB’s first ever Olympic Games taekwondo gold medallist.
And the 23-year-old Welsh star will conjure up memories of London 2012 to help retain her -57kg title in Rio on Thursday.
Jones is the first of GB Academy’s four strong squad in action at the Carioca 3 Arena and starts favourite to stand on top of the podium once more.
“There is a different pressure this time,” agrees the Manchester based defending champion.
“In London no one expected me to win. I was the underdog and 14-1 with the bookies. So, it was just amazing when I did it.
“Now everyone has got high expectations of me. Don’t get me wrong, I have high expectations of myself. If I don’t get a gold medal I will be devastated.
“But a true champion has to deal with that pressure and at the end of the day this is my job.”
Jones, the reigning European Games and European champion, starts her campaign against Morocco’s Naima Bakkal, the current African Championship silver medallist.
Four years ago, ‘Headhunter’ defeated China’s Hou Yuzhuo to make taekwondo history for Team GB.
“No one expected me to be on the team never mind win a gold medal,” she recalled. “I’d only been in the National Academy since 2010.
“I remember getting picked thinking ‘I’m going to the Olympics.’ I just went for it, trained hard and won.
“It’s a lot different this time. It’s been a long four years when Rio has been on my mind the whole time with a lot more ups and downs.
“I appreciate more now what I did in London because I realise how hard it is to win. At the time. I just went and did it and didn’t think anything of it.
“Now, If I am having a hard day or losing a bit of motivation, I will watch the final to see how focussed I was.
“I could see in my face I was going in there to win gold no matter what. That’s the same look and the same drive I have got to have again this time
“But I am feeling really strong and think I am peaking at the right time.”
Catch Jade in action on Thursday 18th August at 2.30pm BST on the BBC Sport website or BBC Red Button.