JADE JONES is going all out to defend her 57kg taekwondo Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016.
It has been an anxious wait to get started in South America for the 23-year-old from Flint but her competition finally gets underway on Thursday, with the London 2012 gold medalist beginning with a round of 16 tie against Moroccan fighter Naima Bakkal (2.30pm BST).
The medals will be decided in the early hours of Friday morning (2am) and Jones feels she is ‘stronger and faster’ than four years ago. The Flintshire ace faces stiff competition for the gold from Spain’s Eva Calvo Gomez and Egypt’s Hedaya Wahba.
“I know I’m a better athlete and stronger and faster and have better kicks but the new girls coming in are taller,” said Jones.
“It’s frustrating in that way. There’s this Iranian girl who is huge. How can she make 57kg? It’s ridiculous.
“My coach always says that when my back is truly against the wall I’m a big-game player.
“I don’t know why that is, but it’s something that switches you on and makes you more hungry. Sometimes I’ll lose to everyone in the gym.
“But then I go to a competition and tear it up. It’s something I’ve got to work on but it’s better to be a big-game player than someone who can do it in the gym and not when it counts.”