The fighter who got into the habit of winning Olympic gold medals developed another habit of losing them.
âI’m a nightmare,â says Jade Jones, and it’s a term that can be viewed from two angles.
For those on the other side of a taekwondo mat, Jones is the immutable object that won gold in the 57kg category at the London and Rio Olympics, and Tokyo could become the first British woman in any sport to win three consecutive Games. She’s pretty decent at what she does.
GB team’s Jade Jones eyes gold in taekwondo at Tokyo Olympics
But with all of this comes the other kind of nightmare. Self-inflicted and recurring, where she’s downright terrible at dealing with what she fought for. âI lose my medals all the time,â she says.
âMy grandfather has them now. He took them away from me!
It’s grandfather Martin Foulkes, who didn’t appreciate Jones smoking at the age of 10 at his home in Flint, Wales, and instead made him play sports. Yesterday and now he was leading her straight ahead. She adds: “He keeps the medals because I kept losing them.”
This happened twice when she won her first gold medal in London 2012 – once in the restroom at the Olympic stadium and another time in the taekwondo hall – and in the years that followed, they have disappeared in various other places.
âI only had it one day the first time in 2012,â says Jones. âIt was literally the day after the victory and I was cheering on Lutalo Muhammad (who won bronze for the GB team). I just got up and left the box in the stands.
Jones hopes to become the first British woman in any sport to triumph at three consecutive Games
âThis first time, it was a terrible feeling. It’s difficult because you can’t just go and ask for another one. I noticed it pretty early each time, maybe in less than an hour, and I ran back and luckily found it.
âThere was another time I made a sponsor appearance (after Rio) when I brought the medals so people could see them. After about 30 minutes, I had no idea where they were. A random guy had them.
âMy family doesn’t trust me with them anymore. Even in Rio, we had this time when I was with my mom in a taxi. The pilots were wearing replica medals there and we were going out and my mom started shouting, “Jade, he’s got your medal.” It wasn’t mine but they think I can’t keep them safe! ‘
The 28-year-old has been pretty close to a guaranteed success over the past decade, ranging from
the first Youth Olympic Games in 2010, where she became the first British athlete to win gold, to date, with 26 other major medals collected in between. Beyond his two Olympic gold medals, there has been a world title in 2019, three European gold medals – the most recent in April – and a record eight Grand Prix victories.
In a 57kg field, where Jones believes âfive or six women have a good chance of winning,â the Welsh fighter will again be the favorite for gold in Japan.
If it keeps its promises, the anticipated lineup of taekwondo in Tokyo will allow it to obtain a treble 2012-2016-2021 in front of the dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin, the rower Helen Glover and the cyclist Laura Kenny.
For those on the other side of the taekwondo mat, Jones has become the immutable object
Another gold medal would also make Jones the first taekwondo fighter of any nationality to reach three. Partly for these reasons, she’s extremely narrow in what she thinks are good Games.
âBritish female athletes haven’t done three in a row, and it hasn’t been done in taekwondo, so if it’s a gold medal, that’s a big story,â he explains. it.
“I know it’s a tough task, and the fact that I’ve given so much to my preparation means I know I can come out of it proud, but for me nothing less than a gold medal is a failure.”
For Jones, the challenges of the lockdown were mitigated to some extent by living with Bianca Walkden, her British teammate and three-time world champion at 73kg. She paints a picture of brutal sparring sessions.
âWe’re good friends,â says Jones, speaking at an event promoting Optimum Nutrition. “But we are competitive with each other and we just turned it into a training camp in the garage.”
One time in particular, the sparring heated up. âI was just coming back from an injury, so I was a little rusty,â she says.
âShe hit me completely in the face and my mouth is bleeding, my teeth are bleeding. I just wanted to get it back and I scream. My first instinct at this time is to attack.
Jones celebrates after winning gold in the 57kg category at the 2016 Rio Olympics
Another unexpected bump came from the departure in 2017 of Paul Green, who had been Jones’ coach since he was a teenager. They had fallen out over Jones appearing on Channel 4’s The Jump series in 2016, but that had been fixed by the time he suddenly left and took a position with the USA team.
âIt was difficult,â she says. âI’ve been with him since I was about 14 and it becomes like family. I thought, “My God, I’ll never be so good now.” But I am well placed now with my configuration.
It is not yet known if this is good enough for another gold. Likewise, if she can keep it this time.
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