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JADE JONES conceded today that her failure to adapt to the empty stands of the Makuhari Hall in Tokyo cost her the chance to become the first British woman to win gold medals at three consecutive Olympics.
The 28-year-old taekwondo star was upset 16-12 by the Refugee Team’s Kimia Alizadeh, and was subsequently denied a second chance at a place on the podium when Alizadeh’s semi-final defeat ruled her out of the repechage.
Jones, who further asserted her near-decade long dominance of the women’s -57kg division when she added a world title to her two Olympic crowns in Manchester in 2019, admitted she was affected by the absence of her family and friends due to pandemic restrictions.
“I just felt I put too much pressure on myself going into it and I really did feel it more than I expected,” said Jones.
“Not having my family there to push me out of that fear zone really did affect me, and I’m gutted I couldn’t do more on the day.
“Normally if I feel the pressure I’ll go out and hear them screaming and see their little faces, and it’ll push me into that attack mode, and that’s what was missing today. I just stayed in the scared mode.”
Jones had appeared unfortunate to draw Alizadeh, a bronze medallist in Rio where she represented Iran, in her opening contest, but appeared to be in little danger when two head kicks helped her establish a two-point lead at the end of the first round.
But Jones’s usual snap was missing, and the much taller Alizadeh, who left her homeland to seek sanctuary in Germany in the wake of the Rio Games, turned the bout around before defending her slender advantage in the final stages.
Jones will resist the temptation to make a snap decision about her future in the sport and instead divert her attention to supporting her best friend and flatmate Bianca Walkden, who bids for an elusive Olympic title on Tuesday.
“Bianca’s been amazing and seeing her up in the crowd crying, I think she is as hurt as me,” Jones said. “So I’ll just try to tell her my mistakes so she doesn’t make them, and can go and get that gold medal she deserves.”
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