Last month Jade Jones made Olympic history, when she won Britain’s first ever taekwondo Gold medal and became Team GB’s youngest gold medallist of the London 2012 Games, after the 19-year-old proved victorious in the women’s -57kg category. Sportsister caught up with Jade to find out what life’s like as an Olympic gold medallist.
“I still can’t believe I’m Olympic Champion. I had thought about things before and wondered what would happen if I won a gold and I knew there would be more attention but I didn’t realise how much. It has all been amazing!” She told Sportsister.
“Getting a Jaguar car was pretty cool and doing a Hello photoshoot with my mum, I was asked to lie across a cooker for that which was quite weird. Having Dizzy Rascal casually come up to me the other day and ask for a photo was pretty cool too.”
After an incredible semi-final which saw Jade beat world number one Tseng Li-Cheng of Chinese Taipei 10-6, Jade once again overcame the odds to claim the gold from world champion Hou Yuzhuo of China.
This was not the first time Jade that had faced Yuzhuo however, after the pair competed against each other at the 2011 Takewondo World Championships in South Korea, where it was Hou who won the gold.
“I think beating Hou Yuzhuo motivated me since she beat me at last year’s world championships. I was distraught after she did and so remember walking into the fight and thinking she took my world title but she’s not going to take this in front of the home crowd.”
Now, the question we all want to know the answer to, what was life like in the Olympic village?
“It was strange because I could see all the amazing things happening but before I competed I didn’t want to try them out because I wanted to keep my mind focused. But as soon as I won I allowed myself to have a look around and had my hair and makeup done in the salon.”
Over the last few years, Jade who lives in Flint, North Wales, has received a huge amount of support from the people of her hometown, who in 2010 rallied together and raised the funds that she needed to get to the Youth Olympics qualifiers.
Whilst more recently, it has been announced that Flint Leisure Centre, which is due to be re-opened in the autumn, will be re-named after Jade, in tribute to the Olympic champion.
“My family have been amazing through all of it. Everyone is so much behind me and none of them ever put pressure on me, they were just so proud of me being there never mind winning gold.”
Taekwondo had been a reasonably low profile sport in Britain before London 2012, now that Jade has become a role model for the sport though, does she think interest in taekwondo will increase?
“Already I have heard more people are getting involved in the sport and people have been tweeting me their experiences which is amazing. It’s also crazy to think some people might think of me as a role model but also very flattering.”
The British taekwondo team was unexpectedly thrown into the spotlight in the lead up to the Games, following a ‘controversial’ team choice which saw Mohammed Lutalo make the team over world number one Aaron Cook. Did the whole team suffer as a result of the extra attention or did it help to bring them closer together?
“We had a bit of extra pressure going in to the games but we put everything behind us and concentrated on the task at hand. As athletes we just continued training and ignored the politics and media and we were all full of support for Lutalo who did great.”
Team GB’s female athletes were incredibly successful at the Games, do you think your own success and that of the other British female medal winners will inspire young girls and teenagers to get involved with sport?
“It was amazing how Team GB performed and I know it motivated me, I was sitting there waiting to compete thinking I want to get involved and try and contribute. So hopefully it will.”
At just 19 years old, Jade has many years left of her career and she’s not wasting any time when it comes to planning for the next Games. So what does the future hold for Jade?
“To be the youngest one and to make history as the first-ever taekwondo gold for Great Britain was amazing but I want to do the same again in Rio and win another gold. People seem to peak in taekwondo in their early 20s and I still have a lot to achieve.
“At the moment I’m looking forward to spending some time with friends and family and then going on holiday with my mum to chill out.
“I haven’t decided yet when I’ll go back to training. I’ll return when I am mentally hungry again, I think it’s important to train only when you’re hungry otherwise you lose motivation.
“I have missed training though, I thought I would be chuffed to be missing all the hard work but I have already got a bit bored and had the guilt of feeling unfit.
“The plan is to compete in Mexico at the world championships next year and when I start back at training I know I’ll train hard and not rest on my laurels.”
Sophia Smith, Sportsister
The Women’s Sports Magazine
Jade Jones is fuelled by www.myprotein.com , the UK’s number one online sports nutrition brand and supplier to many of Britain’s Olympians such as Olympic Bronze Medallist Gymnast Sam Oldham, World 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene and 11-time Paralympic gold medallist David Roberts.
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