Jade Jones...An athlete's view
14 October 2015 / 18:07
Flint’s Jade Jones ensured her name would forever be etched into the history books when she won Great Britain’s first ever taekwondo gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Since then she has continued to enjoy success, including adding the -57kg title at the European Games in Baku in 2015 while in 2013 she was awarded an MBE for services to taekwondo.
In the first of her monthly blogs leading up to Rio, Jade talks about her Flint roots, leaving home and competing in front of the British crowd.
I can’t wait to compete in the Manchester Grand Prix this weekend, it’s always a great competition, especially with the fact you can have all your friends and family there supporting you. I’m sure it’s going to be a special environment at the Manchester Regional Arena. They’ve been putting all the posters and backdrops up already so the excitement is building.
As taekwondo fighters we do a lot of travelling all around the world but there’s nothing like competing close to home and seeing people you know in the crowd. I think I’ve got a fair few people coming to support me, friends and family from Manchester and Flint [North East Wales], which is where I’m from originally. I actually think my headmaster from Flint High School is coming too! I really appreciate the support I get, it’s a big boost and makes you want to try even harder for them.
Being based in Manchester, I’m only an hour’s drive from everyone back home in Flint so I try and go back there most weekends when I’m not away competing. It’s a nice break from training and it’s always good to see everyone. I moved out of home to go to Manchester when I was 17 so five years ago now and I remember it being really hard at the time. My mum used to do everything for me at home, my washing, cooking, cleaning, so it was a bit of a shock when I moved out.
I shared a flat with my Great Britain teammate Bianca Walkden and we actually still share a place now, although it’s now a three storey house where other athletes can come and stay. At the moment it’s just us, but it’s really handy for training at the Great Britain Taekwondo Academy in Newton Heath, Manchester. When we first moved in though, I remember how Bianca had to teach me how to do things like cooking. She was a big help to have around.
We get on really well and we’re both into shopping so that helps. When I’m not training, I like to head to a coffee shop, or go to the cinema and just relax. If we’re really far away and we’ve done well at a competition, then it’s good to celebrate as a team. But if it’s a busy period of competitions, then you have to be sensible. Hopefully I can do well this weekend in Manchester, maybe if I get the gold I’ll treat myself and order a big pizza!
After Manchester, my next competition will be in six weeks for the Grand Prix World Final in Mexico so between now and then I’ll just be training and keeping myself in good condition. I’m in a really strong position for Rio qualification. Mathematically I’ve secured my position in terms of ranking points for Rio but I can’t afford to ease off as the selectors could always go with someone else in the -57kg category.
I think we get two days off after Manchester and then it will be straight back to training. I do get young people asking me to show them what I do, often when I go home to Flint. I really enjoy it though, it’s nice that they are interested. I’ve helped out my first ever coach Martin Williams a few times in Flint with a few coaching seminars.
He’s the founder of Flint Taekwondo Club and helped me out when I was just starting so it’s nice to give something back, I really enjoy it.
We’ll catch up with Jade next month to get her thoughts on her performances in Manchester and what it means to represent Great Britain at the highest level.