Jade Jones: A champion must find a way to peak at Tokyo Olympics

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales
Jade Jones says the postponement of the Olympics will make her hungrier in 2021

Double Olympic taekwondo champion Jade Jones says she has to find a way to create history in Japan next year.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will now run in 2021 - from 23 July to 8 August - after being postponed for a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Jones is aiming for a third gold medal after her success at London 2012 and again four years later in Rio.

"A champion finds a way and I just have to do that to peak a year later," said Jones.

The 27-year-old had initially cut a forlorn figure when the Olympics was postponed but is more settled now she knows the Games are exactly a year after they were initially planned.

"The Olympics could have been cancelled and I am just grateful I get that chance to do something nobody else has done," said Jones.

"The hunger will build even more and add fuel to the fire. The hardest part was not knowing. Now we know when it is, we can take the foot off the gas a bit now.

"It is crazy times and we don't know how long we are quarantined for.

"As soon as the rules lift and we go back to training normally, I will sit down with my performance director and coach to re-evaluate and make sure I am peaking for 12 months later than I was meant to be."

Jones, 27, accepts there will be mental and physical challenges to overcome.

"People don't realise how tough it is doing an Olympic cycle over four years, let alone five," she said.

"It gets harder and I am getting older and have been in the sport for a long time.

"The struggle will be when we get back to the academy and realise we have 14 months instead of what we were doing."

Until then Jones is in lockdown with her housemate, three-time world champion Bianca Walkden, but training continues after the garage was turned into a makeshift gym.

"It was a bit mad because we got a phone call from the performance director, who basically said the academy was shutting and we had an hour to claim as much training stuff as we could," said Jones.

"We drove over and filled our cars and brought it all back. My garage was full of clutter and rubbish so we had to rip that all out and transform it into a training gym with taekwondo mats, weights and a bike."

The challenge remains to unwind with Jones and Walkden also scheduled to hold online tutorials in conjunction with European Taekwondo.

Jade Jones
Jade Jones (right) is the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist in the women's 57 kg category

"I feel like a kid again trying to entertain ourselves," said Jones.

"We are looking to different things we would not normally do. Odd jobs around the house, cooking more, things like that.

"We have played Fifa on the Playstation, board games like Cluedo and even had a football washing machine challenge where we to try and kick a ball into the machine.

"I have not got a garden, so we are inside all the time. We try to go for a walk but we live in the city centre, and there is nowhere to go except around the block."

Jones is also trying to overcome the concern of not seeing her family in Flint, north Wales.

"The hardest stuff is worrying about my family being safe," said Jones.

"I normally go back to Wales to be with my family every weekend and not knowing when I am next going to see them is horrible.

"We have been doing live videos on Instagram. My Mum watches and my grandad also and he reckons I have gone slow!

"He is a big critic but at least I get him to watch me train and try to keep connected as many ways as we can."

Jones hopes to reward them with that historic hat-trick in Japan next year at sport's ultimate event.

"The Olympics can be a celebration of life, a light at the end of the tunnel," said Jones.

"I believe people will come out of this and appreciate the little things like giving somebody a handshake or a hug."

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