Taekwondo athlete Jade Jones made Olympic history in 2012, becoming Britain’s youngest gold medallist at the London Olympics, before winning gold again in Rio.
With the 2024 Paris Olympics just over a year away, it matters now more than ever for Jones to be on form in her qualifying tournaments and prove she is on track to make history in the sport of taekwondo.
If Jones can repeat her previous Olympic performances, she will become the world’s first taekwondo athlete to claim three Olympic golds.
However, there is undeniable doubt looming over the fighter following her shock defeat at the Tokyo games in 2021, losing out in the round of 16 to Refugee team athlete Kimia Alizadeh.
Yet, some argue this heart-breaking loss has inspired Jones to come back stronger and with a hunger to prove herself as one of the sport’s top athletes.
Bethany Burt, 22, runs her own martial arts academy in Coventry following a successful career in Taekwondo.
She said: “Jade definitely has the capability to go for that third Olympic gold. I suppose you might say she is past her peak, but she’s a very hardworking and tenacious individual.
“I personally think her best kick from what I’ve seen in training is her crescent kick. Left leg forward, hands out as if she’s going into the clinch and then right leg comes over the back of the head – really fast. It’s a great shot.
“The biggest challenge for her is newcomers that have really started to show how good they are in women’s -57. These other girls are going to be striving for those medals just as much as she is.
“I think another big challenge for Jade is obviously after her success and being one of the best Britain has seen, she has received a lot of attention. She has made taekwondo a more well-known sport but that has come at the price of sacrificing training time for media opportunities.”
Jade Jones has competed at 81 tournaments so far in her career, with a total of 225 registered fights. As shown in the stats graphic, Jones won 183 of them and has a win rate of 81.3%.
Above demonstrates the timeline of every fight and final score outcome in her career since 2012.
The strongest years seem to be around 2016 through to the beginning of 2018, running on the high of claiming her second Olympic gold.
Interestingly, 2020 was a record year for Jones, racking up her fight scores to all time highs during the European Championships.
But it all came crashing down at her third Olympics.
London 2012 gave a home advantage to Jones as her first official Olympics.
Her stunning debut performance in the featherweight division (-57kg) saw two landslide victory wins in her first two fights (15-1, 13-3).
A respectable semi-final result (10-6) saw her to the final that brought home her first Olympic gold medal (6-4).
Here she made history as Great Britain’s first-ever taekwondo athlete to win gold in the sport.
Notably, her point record at Grand Prix events 2013-15 shows Jones can defend well during her fights and keep opponents’ score low, even when her own seems to fluctuate.
In the build up to the athlete’s second Olympic games, Jones experienced an unbeaten run in 2016.
In what can only be described as a stunning performance in Rio, Jones took victory in the final over her long-time rival Eva Gomez.
This made Jones only the sixth athlete in the history of the sport to have won two Olympic gold medals, and put her in the driving seat as the most successful Taekwondo athlete Britain has produced.
When it came to Tokyo, however, the double Olympic champion was beaten in her first bout (16-12).
This crushed dreams of achieving three golds in a row and made national headlines as Jones was the favourite to finish on top.
A big part of Jones’ Paris 2024 journey is how she has bounced back from the shock of her career in Tokyo.
In February 2022 she made a stunning return to action at the President’s Cup in Albania, winning gold in her first tournament back.
Most recently in March of this year, Jones won gold at the Bulgarian Open in Sofia.
Burt concluded: “If she doesn’t medal at the next Olympics, I think it could be the start of the end of her career. Jade could be an incredible coach.
“She’s had a good ten years fighting and having a big name. She’s done a lot for the sport, inspired a lot of people and will continue even after she retires from fighting”.
The road to qualifying for Paris 2024 still has a while to go for the triple Olympic hopeful, but as she has demonstrated both on and off the mat, it is a challenge she is more than ready for.
Given her career stats so far, a strong defence approach and using her cut-throat crescent kick will go far to secure a place on the podium.