Jones fights to Grand Prix Final glory

Jones fights to Grand Prix Final glory

03 December 2017 / 23:15

Two-time Olympic champion Jade Jones put in a near-faultless performance to defend her Grand Prix Final crown, in the Ivory Coast.

The Welsh fighter, who won Olympic gold at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, begun her title defence with a win over home favourite Banassa Diomande in the round of 16.

That was followed up by a 13-10 quarter-final victory over Belgium’s Raheleh Asemani - setting up a semi-final against Tatiana Kudashova.

The Russian put up a stern test in the final four, but Jones proved just too strong and the 24-year-old five-time Grand Prix champion prevailed 18-14.

Jones faced Spain’s Marta Calvo Gomez in the final and eased to a comfortable 26-7 victory that included a stoppage for her opponent to have treatment to a cut under her eye.

The -57kg category has become Jones’ own since her breakthrough win at the London 2012 Olympic Games, winning European Games gold at Baku 2015 before claiming the European Championships last year.

She took some time away from the sport in the wake of her second Olympic title in Rio, but Jones will hope the defence of her Grand Prix Final crown, in addition to her win at the London Grand Prix in October, is a sign of things to come with a home World Championships on the horizon in 2019.

But the final was far from straightforward in the sweltering conditions, also facing off against the sister of the fighter she beat to take Olympic gold in Rio.

"It felt so weird,” she said. “At first I thought ‘here we go again, another Calvo Gomez! It was surreal fighting the other sister. But both have the same style so I knew what I had to do.

“To finish the year on a high is amazing. Now, I can relax and enjoy Christmas with my family properly. Christmas wouldn’t have been the same had I lost.

“They were really tough: I can’t explain how hot it was.

“They were conditions we have never dealt with before. And I had a bad match in the quarter-finals."

Elsewhere in the Ivory Coast, Jones' teammates did not fare so well as Peter Longobardi-Radford exited at the quarter-final stage of the -68kg category.

Longobardi-Radford was narrowly beaten 14-13 by Russia's Alexey Denisenko, while Lauren Williams also missed out in the last eight.

Reigning world champion Ruth Gbagbi eventually prevailed 24-21 and Mahama Cho made it a hat-trick of quarter-final losses as she was beaten in the +80kg category by Vladislav Larin.

Sportsbeat 2017

Join the Team GB club today, check it out right here