Jade Jones says the burden of an unprecedented build-up to this year’s delayed Tokyo Olympics has given her renewed motivation to claim a third straight taekwondo gold medal.
The 27-year-old has often conceded her struggles in trying to sustain the desire to repeat the feats she achieved first as a teenager at London 2012, then four years later in Rio.
But after a cycle like no other, which has seen socially-distanced training and sporadic opportunities for international competition, Jones says she has rediscovered her motivation to hit even greater heights.
Jones told the PA news agency: “For a while I was feeling negative about it – it’s obviously not going to be the same Olympics this time, and I was starting to think it might be a bit rubbish.
“But now I see it as I’ve done a home Olympics and a normal Olympics, and now I get a chance to do an Olympics in a pandemic, and who else is going to be able to say that?
“If I come out on top at the end of this journey, I will have proved to myself that no matter what happens I can come through anything, and that will help to make winning Tokyo extra special.”
Along with fellow reigning world champions Bianca Walkden and Bradly Sinden, Jones is part of a 15-strong squad named for the European Championships, which start in Sofia on April 8.
Mahama Cho will continue in the contested heavyweight berth while friend and rival Lutalo Muhammad is laid low by a minor injury, and GB performance director Gary Hall is braced for a major selection dilemma approaching Tokyo.
Muhammad got the better of a selection controversy involving the then world number one Aaron Cook in 2012, since when taekwondo chiefs have worked to ensure more clarity in the process.
GB performance director Gary Hall said: “We give all of our athletes opportunities in competitions, from which we collate all our data and put it in front of the selectors, and it’s their right to say who is the best person for the job.
“It is very tough on the athletes concerned because someone has got to win and someone has got to lose. But whoever the selectors think is best for the Olympic heavyweight category, I have no doubt it will be the right choice.”