TEENAGE tae kwon-do ace Jade Jones captured a major title in style on Sunday by securing the British Open in Manchester.
Flint’s 18-year-old Youth Olympic Games champion beat a challenging mix of established names to secure overall victory and give her London 2012 Olympic dreams a massive shot in the arm.
Jones told the Flintshire Chronicle she now hopes to explode on to the scene next year on the Olympic stage, should the martial arts sensation be selected for Team GB.
She said: “I’m made up. It’s my first major title and the quality of the competitors was very high.
“I have had a lot of pressure but I am just trying to take it as it comes. I was confident before this tournament but knew it was going to be really tough.”
The 57kgs category fighter was strong from the outset, demolishing Russian Anastasija Gurskaya by 15 points to six to book her place in the semi-final, where she comfortably dispatched Norwegian Nikolina Kursar.
Frenchwoman Marlene Harnois – ranked in the world’s top six – proved a much tougher test for the final, moving 4-0 ahead after the first round.
But Jones levelled with an acrobatic spinning kick to the head, before claiming an overall 10-8 victory following some late body shots.
It was a vital step toward Olympic qualification as it gave Jade an opportunity to test herself against some of her potential Olympic rivals and gauge how far she has come since graduating from junior to senior last year.
Afterwards Team GB performance director Gary Hall was full of praise for Jade as he appraised the achievements of the whole British contingent at their home tournament.
“The British Open was a tremendous success with great performances from British players,” said Hall.
“Jade has done a phenomenal job from juniors through to seniors with very little break. She continues to improve and she will get better.”
Jones thanked her coaching team and believes there is still more to come from her.
She said: “The support has been great with the best coaching and teaching I could have, it has been excellent.
“I am doing well but there is so much more I can still improve on, there were mistakes I was making throughout.
“Most of the girls were already at the top of their game but I’m very young and still getting stronger so hopefully I can arrive and explode on the scene. I am looking to get bigger and better.”
Jones’ sights are ultimately set on next year’s European Championships, which will be her next and final opportunity to actually secure qualification for London 2012.