AS she prepares to take the first step toward Olympic qualification this weekend, teenage tae kwon-do sensation Jade Jones has spoken about what motivates her to work so hard to achieve her 2012 dream.
The British Open comes to Manchester on Saturday and Sunday and will give the impression of being a mini-World Championships.
Many athletes and coaches will be weighing up Jones, the 18-year-old from Flint who has been the only fighter to come close to stealing the spotlight from another British great – Sarah Stevenson.
And in an interview with TV network Eurosport, Jones has attributed her meteoric rise through the junior and senior ranks to a ‘love of fighting’.
Having won Youth Olympic gold she claimed silver at this year’s World Championships.
“Making the transition from junior to senior has been quite hard because a lot of the girls are quite experienced but I can only get bigger and better,” said Jones.
“The British Open is going to be a really hard competition, just as hard as the World Championships were. People will be coming from all over the world so I'm really excited to get in there and see what I can do. Obviously I'm going for nothing less than gold.
“I can feel the pressure and expectation building already. I just try and forget about that. I love the sport and love fighting. I'm going there to win gold for me at the end of the day, so I try and forget about all the expectations on me. “
Surprisingly, Jones admits to being quite different off the mat to the aggressive focused athlete we see on it.
“I am quite a nervous person and most people seem to perform worse from it but it seems to make me better for some reason,” she said.
And she pointed to the inspiration she draws from GB teammate Stevenson, who won World Championship gold while both parents were terminally ill.
“Sarah is amazing,” said Jade. “What she has done lately going through her parents being ill but still winning the World Championships, she is definitely an inspiration. What she has been through at the minute, if she can become world champion with all that going on, others on the team can do the same.”