Jade looking ahead to Tokyo a year on from Rio glory

Reporter:

David Humphreys

A year on from her incredible success in Brazil, Flint's golden girl is already focusing on the next Olympics.

Today marks the first anniversary of Jade Jones becoming a double Olympic champion as she stormed her way to the women's -57kg taekwondo title in Rio de Janeiro.

It came off the back of her gold medal on home soil in London in 2012, when aged
just 19.

She also won a Youth Olympics gold in Singapore in 2010.

Despite the next Games being three years away, the Flint fighter known as the ‘Headhunter’ has already got her eyes on making more history by scooping an unprecedented third senior Olympic title in Tokyo.

Jade made history by becoming the first Team GB taekwondo gold medalist in 2012, following it up four years later with a confident series of victories in Rio.

Looking back on the 12 months since that incredible Rio triumph – which has included her appearing on reality TV show The Jump – Jade said she remained humble despite her whirlwind career.

“I can’t believe it has been a year already. It has gone so fast and already my sight is on the next Olympics in Tokyo,” she said.

“It just doesn't seem real. I’ve come from a tiny place in a little council flat and had the opportunity to go on to do all these things, like being on The Jump as well.

“I just feel the same, but blessed that I’ve had the opportunity.”

The Olympic ace, who now lives in Manchester, said she looks back fondly on the support she had from her native Flint while out in Rio.

Her mum, Jayne Ferguson, was watching in South America, together with nine other family members who frantically cheered her on.

Those unable to make the trip to Brazil were part of a carnival atmosphere in her home town, including dad Gary Jones as many stayed up into the early hours of the morning to see her again claim gold.

After her win, people came out in their thousands for Jade as she paraded her gold medal, something she said she was hugely thankful for.

Plans have now emerged for a statue to potentially be built of Jade in Flint, having already had the town’s leisure centre renamed in her honour.

“It’s always really special to me to get back to Flint and show everyone who was behind me on this whole journey,” she said.

“Before my final when I knew I’d got a minimum of silver, I answered a FaceTime call from one of my friends who was in the pub with everyone screaming and cheering. It was crazy.”

Despite her Olympic triumphs, it has not been all gold for Jade in the last 12 months after missing out on a world championship title in Korea in June.

But she acknowledges that her sport’s biggest event is the Olympics, as she sets her sights on Tokyo in 2020.

She said: “I had a good break after Rio and then went on to do the World Championships in South Korea.

“I got the bronze medal, which isn’t really what I wanted, but the focus is definitely on Tokyo now and building up the points for then.

“With the Olympics, it’s the pinnacle of your sport and it's hard to get better than that.

“I just wasn't good enough on the day, but in a way it was a blessing in disguise because it made me go away and work harder in the gym to come back better.”

Jade is now preparing for grand prix events in London in October and then the Ivory Coast, as she works to tot up the all important points to ensure her place on the plane to Japan in 2020.

“The goal is to get three Olympic golds but it’s not for another three years,” she said.

“I can’t just afford to switch off for three years. It’s about working hard and staying fit until then.”

Email:

david.humphreys@nwn.co.uk

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