Double Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones says she is more motivated than ever to achieve triple Olympic success despite recent appearances on reality shows Celebs Go Dating and The Jump.
The 25-year-old Welsh fighter shot to taekwondo fame after claiming gold at London 2012 before becoming the youngest British athlete of all time to retain her Olympic title in Rio four years later.
And while ‘The Headhunter’ admits she hasn’t hit peak form just yet, Jones says she is aiming to retain her -57kg European Championships crown in Kazan, Russia this week.
“There is no lie that Tokyo is my ultimate aim, and everything is leading up to that but to become European champion again would mean the world,” she told MM.
“I won it two years ago for the first time so to retain it would just be amazing and show that I am going in the right direction at the start of my Tokyo journey.
“It is hard to judge form. I wouldn’t say I am in peak shape, but definitely in enough shape to win. I have been training for a solid few months now and I have got the buzz back.”
Despite her successes in the dojang, including scooping silver at the 2011 World Championships, the thought of achieving triple Olympic gold makes her hungrier than ever.
‘I’VE GOT WHAT IT TAKES’
“It is hard when you have been Olympic champion twice to come in the gym and go through that four-year slog again,” said Jones.
“I asked myself do I really want to do this? But I have got the opportunity to become the one and only in the sport.
— Jade Jones MBE (@jadejonestkd) April 16, 2018
“No-one has ever got three golds before, so I can’t stop now. I think the fact that no-one has done it shows just how hard it is mentally and physically over a 12-year cycle.
“I believe I am the one who has got what it takes to do it.”
Bodelwyddan-born Jones, who was awarded an MBE in 2013 for her services to taekwondo, recently shot to fame outside of her sport after appearing on E4 reality dating show Celebs Go Dating.
Jones, the BBC Cymru Wales Junior Sportswoman of the Year 2010, went viral after comically walking out on her date whilst appearing on the show.
The 2017 Grand Prix Final gold medallist says she has no regrets about appearing on the programme.
“I had so much fun on Celebs Go Dating,” said Jones. “It was a life experience that I don’t usually ever have.
“I was going on dates which I wasn’t comfortable with in front of the whole world, so it was definitely a confidence boost.
“I just saw it as a bit of fun. At the end of the day it is a TV show and it was just a bit of fun, so I didn’t want to be boring, but I didn’t realise I could actually hurt the guy’s feelings. You can’t turn up on a date hungover, so he did deserve it!
“I was double Olympic champion, I trained all my life to get this gold and you barely get any recognition. Then I went on a dating show and everyone seems to spot me because I was on Celebs Go Dating.
“It shows what the world is like to be honest. I do taekwondo because I love it. It isn’t the money, it isn’t the fame because you don’t really get much recognition for what we do as athletes.
“It is bonkers because I get recognised so much more for that.”
FULL OF BEANS
Jones, who was introduced to taekwondo at eight years old by her grandfather, says while achieving Olympic gold is her number one priority, she hasn’t ruled out on appearing on any more reality shows just yet.
“I would love to go on I’m a Celebrity,” said Jones. “I’m used to dieting all the time so just some beans would be good for me.
“The athlete in me, having the determination and the competitiveness, it would be exciting to see what I am like at the challenges.
“Even though I am a big baby and a wuss I wouldn’t be able to not do it. I would have to give the eating challenges a try.”
The 23rd WTE European Taekwondo Championships take place between May 10-13 May in Kazan, Russia.
Main image courtesy of Jade Jones via Twitter, with thanks.