Team GB exclusive: Jones getting better all the time

Team GB exclusive: Jones getting better all the time

09 April 2015 / 12:17

Taekwondo is a sport full of paradoxes, where contradictions complement each other and opposites work in tandem to produce moments of breathtaking brilliance.

On one hand there is a need for youthful exuberance and a body capable of obeying its owner’s every command, no matter how tired.

But on the other there is no substitute for a wise old head capable of instinctive decision-making based on the experience of fights gone by.

Three years ago Jade Jones – at that point not even 20 years old – used every ounce of youthful spirit to become Britain’s first-ever taekwondo gold medallist.

It was no small feat given that she had to overcome China’s Hou Yuzhuo in the final – a player who is a two-time featherweight world champion.

While youth saw her through at London 2012, the last three years have seen a stark improvement in Jones’ game.

Where once there stood a youngster kicking on autopilot there is now a seasoned athlete – a walking contradiction of youth and experience. An old head on a young body.

In little more than a year Jones will look to defend her Olympic crown but, before then, there is the small matter of the World Championships in Russia.

But she says she will head into both competitions knowing exactly what is required and exactly how to execute.

“When I won London I still wasn’t amazing or anything, I just did amazing on the day. Now I feel like I’m improving so much more,” said exclusively told Team GB.

“My kicks are faster and mentally I’m more mature as an athlete so hopefully I can take that into Rio and know in myself it will be harder to do a second time.

“I’ll be going in as reigning Olympic champion and everyone is going to want to beat me so I will be ready for that.

“I think I can keep improving, I go through phases where I do really well and progress and get better but it’s easier for someone who hasn’t trained long because they can see the improvements.

“I’m still improving at a fast rate though and I still think there’s so much more in the tank and it’s exciting to think what I can do and can be like.”

The crescendo of Jones’ improvement came at the end of 2014 when she finally got the better of arch-rival Eva Calvo Gomez.

Victory over the Spaniard was a long time coming for Jones and she admits it was a huge relief to finally catch her white whale.

"To end the year on such a high was good and it made me start 2015 as world number one so it was great,” she added.

“And finally beating Eva was such a weight off my shoulders and it gave a lot of confidence going into Rio and going into this year.

“It was eating away at me because I have never been beaten twice by the same person before so it probably made my performances worse and affected me a bit too much.

“When I finally did what I knew I could do it was more of a relief and showed me exactly what I’m capable of.

“I know I can beat Eva and even before it was just golden points that separated us but every time I fight her it’s going to be a hard fight.

“The more times I fight her the more practice I get and the main aim will be beating her in Rio.”

© Sportsbeat 2015 

Jade Jones