Jones Under Starters Order For World Grand Prix Season
Olympic champion Jade Jones refuses to rest on her laurels when the 2015 WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix series gets underway in Moscow tomorrow. (Friday)
The world number two begins the defence of her overall Grand Prix title as part of Great Britain’s 10-strong squad.
And despite her early exit from the World Championship, Jones is well placed to qualify GB a place in the -57kg weight division for her country at next year’s Rio Games.
However, Jones, 22, still has some way to go to overhaul Spain’s world leader, Eva Calvo Gomez, at the head of the Olympic rankings. And she admits: “There are a number of other young girls who are improving fast and are coming through.
“So, it’s important to stay at the top of my game and keep working. Taekwondo is constantly changing and I have to make sure my opponents don’t know my style too well.”
Jones was crowned WTF female athlete of the year in 2014 after beating Calvo Gomez to claim her first ever World Grand Prix gold medal in Mexico last December. “I want to start off strongly in Moscow,” she declares ahead of her outing alongside rapidly emerging team mate, Rachelle Booth.
“We’re only a year out from Rio now and it’s 12 months which will be very important,” agrees the European Games gold medallist. That year will be important too for house mate, Bianca Walkden, beginning with tomorrow’s performances in the +67kg weight division.
Despite World Championship success in Russia back in May, the long legged Liverpudlian is keen to boost her ranking points tally after injuries have interrupted her progress over the last couple of years.
Heavyweight Walkden collected her solitary Grand Prix medal in China just over 12 months ago and ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament at the same time.
That ruled ‘Queen B’ out of action until January, missing the chance to put herself in a similar invincible qualification position to Welsh star Jones.
Walkden has yet to re-discover the form that took her to World gold in Chelyabinsk but is ready to make her mark in Moscow.
For Charlie Maddock, Britain’s first ever female European Games title winner, she makes her World Grand Prix debut; so too teenager Max Cater in the men’s event.
*To catch Jones and Co fighting on home territory for the last time before next year’s Olympics, take in the action at Manchester’s edition of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix this October. Tickets are now on sale at www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wtgp
World Grand Prix (Moscow) Schedule:
Friday, August 14:
+80kg: Mahama Cho (Stockwell)
+67kg: Bianca Walkden (Liverpool)
Saturday, August 15:
-58kg: Max Cater (Southampton)
-80kg: Lutalo Muhammad (Walthamstow), Damon Sansum (Elgin)
-49kg: Charlie Maddock (Stoke on Trent)
Sunday, August 16:
-68kg: Jordan Gayle (Manchester), Martin Stamper (Liverpool)
-57kg: Rachelle Booth (Wigan), Jade Jones (Flint)