London Marathon: Paralympian Jade Jones goes the distance

Wheelchair racer Jade Jones
Jade Jones is aiming for a place on the Great Britain team for the Rio Paralympics

Paralympian Jade Jones has a hectic life juggling her training and college work.

The 20-year-old, who will be competing in this weekend's London Marathon, is studying for a law degree at Teesside University but she is also one of the country's leading T54 wheelchair racers, with Commonwealth and European medals to her name already.

And she is learning from the best, with 11-time Paralympic champion Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and her husband Ian overseeing her career.

Tell us more about your events

I race everything from 100m right up to the marathon. Wheelchair racing is a lot like cycling - you need to have good endurance to do those longer distances but if there are 10 women in contention coming into the final straight of a 5,000m race, then you need that sprint finish as well.

I train twice a day, six days a week with a lot of interval training to build my top-end speed and then longer-distance pushes in order to gain that endurance.

I started racing because I enjoyed it. I only thought about the competitive element later on.

Nowadays, if I don't want to train, I just think about what my rivals are doing. They will be out there working hard and if I'm not, I will be a day down on them and it helps push me on.

What is it like having an icon as a mentor?

Tanni and Ian have got the most incredible experience to pass on to me. I'm so lucky to have them as role models and to teach me everything they know, as well as helping me to pursue my academic career plus my training.

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson is one of Paralympic sport's best-known faces

Teesside University have been helpful in allowing me to study part-time so I can fit that around training. You need to have a good support network around you. If you have that, then you are in a good position.

I really enjoy the sport I do, I have clear goals, and I know where I want to be and what I want to do. I am lucky because a lot of people don't have that - so it doesn't seem as harsh going out with friends and things like that.

How do you juggle everything?

Choose a sport you love and have good time management! It is about being motivated and being a bit strict on yourself and allowing yourself that time to go out and do exercise.

You also need targets because if you don't have them, you won't do the work needed - you aren't going to go running in the morning if you haven't got a race to run in the future.

It makes a massive difference when you know where you want to be and know all the steps needed to get there. Tanni, Ian and I set targets for each year and I know all the different things I need to go and reach those targets. If I don't reach a target then I can re-evaluate and see why it didn't happen and if I do achieve it then we have to increase them next time.

What does being Body Positive mean to you?

Body Positive is about being ok with the way you look. As someone who is disabled, there is a lot of stigma around disability and people with disabilities being sad and needing help doing everything, but that is not the case.

Just because you have a disability, or maybe weight 10lb more than you want to - you don't have to be the prettiest person, you just have to be you.

Wheelchair racer Jade Jones
Jade admits her favourite racing distance is the 1,500m

I want to encourage people to get into sport at any level. Sport is such a powerful tool, not just in terms of health, it is also a great way to meet people and in turn it makes you more positive about yourself.

Sport has changed my life - without it I wouldn't have the opportunities to travel to the places or meet the people I have and I know it can do that for a lot of people. You just have to give it a go!