UNPREDICTABLE: Jones on the difference between success and failure
PA Owen Humphreys
Jade Jones is acutely aware of the unpredictable nature of taekwondo and how even one last-gasp glancing blow could be the difference between success and failure ahead of her tilt at Olympic glory.
No other athlete in the sport has won three golds at the Games, but Jones, who topped the podium at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and is the reigning world champion in her -57kg category, is favourite to make history in Tokyo.
While she is bullish about her chances, the 28-year-old from Wales is not allowing herself to get swept up in the emotion as she understands what it takes to reign supreme ahead of a hat-trick bid later this week.
“I feel so lucky to be going for that for that third gold,” she said. “You do get carried away thinking ‘oh my God, it’s going to be mad’.
“It’s been literally such a whirlwind from the very start that I haven’t had time to take it in. To even imagine being Olympic champion once would have been mind-blowing, but to be in a position of going for my third is nuts.
“I’d love to go back to being 19, having no pressure and everything to gain. It is tough being at the top, knowing you constantly have that pressure of being expected to do it. But it’s sport and you learn how to handle it.
“The hard part is I know I can do it, I know I can win. I’ve definitely got the talent and everything I need to get that gold but taekwondo is unpredictable.
“You can be the very best and get flicked in the head in the last second. I just hope it happens and all comes together on that one day like it has before.”
Taekwondo will be among the first events to get underway, with Jones, used to competing towards the back end of the Olympics, looking towards Sunday’s final.
“Usually we’re mid-Olympics or at the end of the Olympics, whereas this time we’re kind of starting it off on the second day,” she said.
“It gives that extra bit of pressure to try and get a medal for GB. But you just end up being focused on your event and your competition.”
Jones is among several women from Team GB looking to win gold at a third successive Olympics alongside the likes of cyclist Laura Kenny, rower Helen Glover and dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin.
“I don’t really know them all that well but I’ve seen some of them at media events and follow their stories on Instagram,” Jones added.
“It’s so amazing and powerful that so many of us are going for that third. It’s bonkers. I just hope I get my one and hopefully, we all get them.”
Watch the channel on TV