OLYMPIC medal favourite Jade Jones says she is not feeling any pressure on the eve of the European Tae Kwon-do Championships in Manchester.
The Flint teenager is hotly tipped to land a medal at the London Olympics this summer but revealed she is feeling relaxed about the whole thing.
Today sees the start of the Euros and if Jones wins the under 57kg competition, there will be no doubt she will be given the final Olympic team place alongside Sarah Stevenson.
But despite all this, the former Flint High School pupil, aged just 19, says she is just enjoying training and preparing for the biggest summer of her life.
“I don’t feel the pressure so much,” she told the Chronicle this week. “A lot of the other girls are worrying about qualifying and dieting to get down to the weight, but I am fighting at my natural weight so I eat what I want and focus on the training and fighting aspects.”
Jones’ advantage is that Team GB had to choose two weights last year to nominate for the Olympics. Based on performances they chose Stevenson’s weight (-67kg) and Jones’.
Stevenson secured her place with World Championship gold 12 months ago but Jones came away with silver, still a shock result to many, meaning she has to wait until after the Euros to learn if she has done enough to go to London.
“The Euros will not be a straight qualifier,” said Jones. “There is a points system over the year, but we will find out next week who has made it. It won’t be announced to the public until the end of May though.”
Jones, formerly of the Matrix tae kwon-do club in Saltney where her grandfather used to take her, goes into the Euros at Manchester’s Sport City confident of success.
“I have worked on a few things since the Worlds,” she said. “If you watch it I step back a lot, I have stopped doing that now and it has worked as I have beat the world champion since then.”
Recently Jones has started to become one of the faces of the London Olympics. An appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show and interviews for the BBC have attracted attention that some athletes would struggle to balance against training. But not Jones.
“It is great doing the media stuff,” she said. “Going on Jonathan Ross was crazy and I love all that.
“But I do it in what little time off I get. If it ever affected my training I would stop doing any of it. Tae kwon-do is the most important thing.
“It is so full-on. I train every day all day now. We do get a little time off, I think we are getting a week after the Euros, but then it’s back for three months of solid work up to the Olympics.”
The Euros are Jones’ last taste of a rare home event before the Olympics. She is used to travelling the world fighting in front of partisan crowds, but this weekend she get a glimpse of what the Olympics may feel like when she competes in front of her family and friends.
“My family are all coming down, loads of them and a lot of fighters from across the country have said they will be coming to Manchester to see me,” said Jones.
“It will be weird having a home crowd cheering, it’s not what I’m used to.
“But that is what London will be like I suppose, so I need to get used to it.”
Watch live streaming of the European Championships from Manchester online at www.247.tv.