Jade Jones: Staying Motivated During Difficult Times
Great Britain’s most accomplished Taekwondo athlete, Jade Jones OBE, recently spent the day at Prevayl HQ to test our tech. After a day of deadlifts, sprints and renegade rows, we talked to Jade about what it takes to stay motivated after having achieved everything in the sport – especially when facing a recent setback like Tokyo 2020.
A coach, a nutritionist and a gym fit for an Olympian. Just three essentials Jade had to forgo during lockdown. Training every day and keeping to a certain weight was anything but a walk in the park for the Welsh sporting giant.
Jade is of course no stranger to adversity but by her own admission, being housebound with her roommate – who happens to be in the heavyweight category – wasn’t exactly a piece of cake.
“She was cooking brownies and cookies all the time and my weight kept going up. I didn’t think I would ever make the weight category again.
“I’ve literally been the same weight since I was sixteen, now I’m twenty-eight it’s harder to maintain that weight.”
In 2017, Jade’s long-time coach Paul Green resigned from GB Taekwondo leaving Jade to find a new guiding light, but champions adapt and always find a way to push forward.
“It’s been tough over the last few years trying to build chemistry, trust and respect with someone again. I had been with Paul since I was a kid.”
From having her face on every Team GB oriented publication, to appearing in multiple Olympic sponsored adverts for Rio 2016, Jade was well versed in being the face of British Taekwondo going into Tokyo 2020. This time round however, there was more pressure on Jade - self added pressure, admits Flint's golden girl.
“I made too much of a big deal out of it. Looking back, I realise I was doing it for the wrong reasons. It’s my own fault really, I put too much pressure on myself.”
Jade’s mindset towards Tokyo 2020 was more focused on what she could lose rather than what she could win. Upon reflection, Jade realises she needed to be more ‘selfish’, more concentrated on her reasons for competing rather than being swayed by external noise.
“I’ve learned a lot since Tokyo. I’m going to use this experience to add fuel to the fire and make myself stronger.
“I’m going to have a different mindset going into Paris, and a different mindset towards life as well.”
Most people view Jade’s short-lived outing in Tokyo as a freak loss, what people don’t acknowledge is that her opponent, Kimia Alizadeh Zonoozi, is not an unfamiliar foe.
“She’s a tough opponent for a first fight. She’s a big, tall girl. On my day, I could beat her, but she was always going to be tough.”
The absence of a crowd massively impacted Jade, even knowing beforehand not to expect that raw energy, she couldn’t acclimatise to the desolate arena.
“Normally I get nervous and then everyone screams and that gets my adrenaline going, it throws me into fight mode, here, I was just nervous and couldn’t feed off a crowd.
“I felt that everything was against me, I love having a crowd, I love having my family there, I love all the bigness of the Olympics and it didn’t feel like that, it felt like a test match almost, my worst kind of style. But everyone had the same experience, so no excuses my end, it just wasn’t my day.”
So, what’s next for the two-time Olympic gold medallist? After having achieved everything in Taekwondo, does the hunger fade? Will anything live up to that first gold? Is hanging up the dobok in the cards?
“Now I’ve lost, the hunger is back. I’m not going out like that. I’m gonna get that gold medal back before I retire.”
Asked and answered, at 28 years old, The Headhunter, having already competed in three Olympic Games has her eyes fully set on Paris 2024.