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Jade Jones sets sights on "extra special" Tokyo triumph

Jade Jones sets sights on
© Reuters
Jade Jones says she has rediscovered her motivation to hit even greater heights.

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."

WTF World Taekwondo Grand Prix 2018 – Day Three – Regional Arena
Jade Jones is one of three reigning world champions in the GB squad for the European Championships (Martin Rickett/PA)

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.

Rio Olympic Games 2016 – Day Fourteen
Lutalo Muhammad is facing a major selection fight (Mike Egerton/PA)

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."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States1011930
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78520
Great BritainGreat Britain56516
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events

· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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