Jade Jones defends her Olympic title of -57kg at Toyko’s Makuhari Messe Hall. The Headhunter needs another gold to be the most decorated taekwondo competitor at the Games. Bianca Walkden is aiming for +67kg on Tuesday, following the Rio 2016 bronze.
Last updated: 23:07/21, 9:34pm
“Anything less that gold is an fail to me.”
Jade Jones, just 19 years old, became the first ever Great Britain taekwondo champion to earn a medal at Olympics. She retained her -57kg title in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
The 28-year old is on the verge of being the first ever taekwondo student to win three Olympic golds.
Jones would be the first British woman ever to win three gold medals at different Games if Jones wins another Olympic title.
As a 10 year old, she had been caught smoking and was taken by her grandfather to a taekwondo class to try to find another path. She is now the greatest athlete that Britain has produced in her discipline, with two Olympic Games under her belt and two gold medals.
The ‘Headhunter” has been crowned the European Champion in Taekwondo, having won the World Championships in 2019.
Jones, despite her mediocre record, is looking forward to taking the mat at Toyko’s Makuhari Messe Hall Sunday.
She said this at an event to promote Optimum Nutrition. It was a 19-year old girl going into the London Olympics for her first Olympics. No one was expecting anything.
So any win back then was considered a bonus. Now, anything below gold is an embarrassment. Everyone is watching me and my thoughts are focused on: “Can she make it?” Is she capable of achieving this third gold medal?
“But I cannot do more than I can and when I stand on the mat I will give my all and can leave with my head high.
“It was amazing to be able to attend the European Championships. I don’t think that we would have had the chance to compare ourselves with the best around the globe.
“To get to the Europeans, after so much effort and to win that third medal was a great feeling. I felt good and able to think that I had just won my third European Championships. Now it is time for me to try and win my third Olympics.
It is something I always think about, and that would be incredible. I know I had my Rio celebrations and have been thinking about what it would feel like to win in Tokyo. It would have been the best celebration of my life if I had won.
I think that the hardest part of the road is the last. It’s harder than ever to keep the top. It’s uncharted territory. To win it, would be incredible and certainly the greatest yet.
“I want to accomplish something unique, but I have learned that winning is all I care about. I love the feeling of standing on the top and hearing the national anthem.
“I’m almost greedy, and I want it to win again. But to be in unknown territory and to do something that no one has done before, I would feel happy to just retire and be able put my feet up.
Jones and Bianca Walkden, Jones’ housemate, transformed their garage into a fitness center while National Taekwondo Centre was closed in Manchester due to the coronavirus lockdowns.
Each athlete had a unique preparation to Tokyo. Despite the mad scramble in March 2020 for equipment, Jones claims that the additional year of preparation paid off. Jones, the double Olympic champion, was able to recover fully from the knee ligament injury.
She said Sky Sports News that “The day it was announced, we had 24 hours in which to obtain as much equipment from the National Centre as possible so it was kinda a race between the athletes to get it as quickly as possible.”
Bianca Walkden and I drove our cars. We grabbed everything we could. The kicking bob was a hit, and we even took the carpets off the ground. We also got weights and a bicycle, which meant that we could have everything in one place.
“I still have a few bits I didn’t bring back. I still have the bob, and the mats in case there is another lockdown. I am all set then.”
Jones stated that the Olympics were delayed because Jones was too strong and had never suffered any injuries. However, Jones noted that Jones had an MCL tear [in February 2020] which required a brace.
I would have returned in six to eight weeks, and that gave me time to heal from my injury as well as to meet with my coach to improve. It has made me feel better.
It’s difficult to give all your heart, soul and strength to something uncertain. You heard it in the media constantly that the Olympics was not going to happen. So you were training mentally and giving everything to something that may never be happening.
Jones currently ranks No. 1 in the World Taekwondo Olympic rankings for -57kg and has a nearly 50 point advantage over Hatice Kubra Ilgun from Turkey.
Jones acknowledges that the dominance of the Welsh martial artist in this category is undeniable, but she admits to evaluating whether Tokyo 2020 could be her final Games.
She said, “Since then, there’s been more. I used to think three Olympics, and now, after a little break, I can only see it being two years.”
“The points system works in that if I win the one, I would have many points and I’d almost be on my way to qualifying.
“After the Olympics, I will probably travel or do something else, then switch off and decide what I want and whether there’s a fourth [Games] left in me.”
Walkingden: My heart will be left on the mat
Bianca Walkden, the reigning European and World +73kg champion is looking for further success in Tokyo after her bronze medal in Rio de Janeiro. She says that the camaraderie she has shared with her close friend Jones helped her to keep going in the run-up the Olympics.
Walkden’s quest for Olympic glory will start Tuesday, Tokyo’s Makuhari Messe Hall. She has already been guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinal round of +67kg.
She said Sky Sports News that she and her husband were always training together in the garage, pushing one another. We are so competitive in everything we do.
We were running around screaming, kicking and making sure that we were the healthiest we could be. Every task we undertake together is challenging – including making tea.
“It feels like we have been together on a journey since 2010, we’ve trained together and lived together. Now, we need to push each other into Tokyo and win two Olympic gold medals.
Jade’s achievements in this sport are unquestionable. She deserves it all.
She is a champion because she trains hard and puts in the effort. I know she’ll win another gold medal, and add to the history of taekwondo.
Jones was unsuccessful in the World Championship until two years ago when she won her first title at Manchester. Walkden, however, has only eyes for Tokyo’s one major medal after failing to win gold. She settled for bronze in Rio for +67kg.
Walkden has improved her chances of winning an Olympic title by showing good form after she won the third European Championships in Sofia, three months ago.
Liverpudlian is also three-time World +73kg champion. He added that it would be totally different from any other Olympics. Although it won’t be the same as what we saw in Rio five years back, it will be unique.
Everyone will face a challenge. It’s a completely new type of Olympics. If we are able to get through the last 16 months, what other way could we have made it? It’s exciting to get on the plane and see what my abilities are.
It’s great to walk away with an important medal, especially one like a gold [at the European Championships]. I feel good, I feel ready. “I’m going to surrender my soul, die trying to leave my heart on my mat.”
This 29-year old is part of a taekwondo squad in Tokyo that will represent the biggest GB team to compete in Games since 2000, when taekwondo was made an Olympic sport. Jones and Mahama Cho, as well debutants Bradly and Lauren Sinden, will join Walkden and Jones.
She stated: “Taekwondo has grown from strength to strength since its inception in the country of 2000, when it was associated with the Sydney Olympics.
We started in Beijing with Sarah Stevenson in 2008. Then we moved to London in 2012 with Jade Jones, Lutalo Muhammad and Lutalo Muhammad. In Rio de Janeiro 2016, there were three of us that received a medal.
“Now, Tokyo has the greatest number of athletes so we hope we can get more to win five medals.”
GB has selected 201 female athletes to represent Britain at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This marks the first Games where there are more male and female athletes.
Walkden hopes to be a role-model for young, budding martial artists in the UK and that her appearance on the largest stage can increase participation in her sport.
“I want as many children, boys and girls to learn martial arts, and to find the next champion, an Olympic or world champion,” she said.
“But, if they don’t, getting people involved in sport is great. I think the girls are doing it better than boys this time. So girl power!
Publited Sat, 24 July 2021 at 06:38.26 +0000