Jade Jones, who won gold for Team GB in the women’s taekwondo at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, speaks out on her inspirations, training during lockdown, and the prospect of competing in Tokyo with no crowd.
You won the European taekwondo title with no crowds because of Covid last month. That must be reassuring when it comes to this year’s Tokyo Olympics?
I’m trying to have an open mind because I don’t know what to expect. I’ve just got to get excited now and try and bring that gold back for my family and friends. I always say I’m a big-game player. The Olympics is the biggest event of all, and that’s when I rise and get to that next level. Sometimes I’ve lost because I haven’t been able to switch on because it’s not as big a deal. At least I’ve had that practice with no one there, so the Olympics won’t be the first time.
Was it harder to stay at your fighting weight during lockdown?
It was the hardest it’s ever been. I had an injury as well, so I didn’t train for a few weeks, and was living with an athlete who’s a heavyweight so she was cooking and feeding cakes to me. I could see my weight going up. I was thinking, ‘My coach is going to kill me!’
How does being a double Olympic gold medallist change you?
I don’t think I’ll ever change. That’s what my family joke about. I’m still common as muck. But I love that, no matter what, I’ll be an Olympic champion for the rest of my life.
You’ve done some crazy things thanks to your taekwondo, such as kicking Jonathan Ross in the head…
Yeah! And when I was on The Jump, going down the skeleton at however many miles an hour, thinking, ‘How did I end up doing this?’, my aim was to just get out of that in one piece because my coach wasn’t happy about me going on it. I was like, ‘I’m robust, I’ll be fine’ but I was so careful.
Who are your inspirations?
I loved Kelly Holmes when I was a kid. She went through so much, and then to come out on top and win the Olympic gold at 34. And every athlete who manages to win and stay on top because I know how hard is.
Did you enjoy going on Celebs Go Dating?
Yeah, all those TV shows I’ve been on have been the most fun of my life. Being an athlete is boring — you just eat, sleep, train and repeat, you’re too tired to do anything else. So having those switch-off periods after the Olympics, like when I was in Cape Verde for a week drinking cocktails, I was thinking, ‘Wow! This is what I should be doing!’
Are there any other reality shows you’d like to do?
I’d love to do I’m A Celebrity…, just for that challenge. I’d do the eating part fine because I’m used to starving myself with taekwondo. When everyone’s just eating beans I’d be like, what are you moaning about? It’s good! I think I’d be quite scared as well, though.
Your grandad must be so proud of you, being the one who got you in to taekwondo.
Definitely. I started to get a bit cheeky and he wanted me to go on the right path. He heard there were martial arts lessons at the local leisure centre so it was just chance that it was taekwondo and I loved it. I’ve not looked back and grandad’s still telling me bad things I did in my fight and what would have been better.
You’re getting behind the Bioglan wellness campaign, where you get a free virtual health consultation. How did your consultation go?
I was recommended a few supplements that could help with recovery and inflammation. A lot more people could benefit from checking in with their body and the Pit Stops will help you learn what’s out there to help. Plus, you can get some freebies! I was taking vitamin D and omega-3 every day and I was told to add red krill oil, magnesium and curcumin as well. I didn’t know about them and it’s definitely made a difference. I see my body as a machine — if you put the wrong fuel in your car, it wouldn’t go. I’ve always been obsessed with eating the right things and keeping fit, and lockdown has heightened that. And with the training load I put on myself, even though I get the right fuel in my body, you still need a bit of help with nutrients you’re missing.
You started training young. Do you think every eight-year-old should start learning a martial art?
Yes, martial arts teach loads of things like self-defence and respect. It gives you a focus too. I’d want my kids to go into sport because it teaches you life skills as well — like you don’t always win, you have to take losses and keep moving, things can be tough. I recommend sport for every kid.
■ For details on Bioglan’s free, virtual health consultations and a free supplement, see bioglan.co.uk/bioglan-pitstop
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