Taekwondo: 'Head-hunter' Jade Jones adds body work to repertoire

Jade Jones
Jade Jones is currently second in the world standings

Reigning Olympic -57kg taekwondo champion Jade Jones is aiming to beat her opponents to the punch when she defends her title at Rio 2016.

The 22-year-old Welsh fighter earned the nickname of 'Head-hunter' when she arrived at the British Taekwondo Academy in Manchester in 2009.

But now she is adding more body blows to her trademark kicks to the head.

"When everyone is covering up and you can't score very easily... a big punch can win you a point," Jones said.

She began the season's World Taekwondo Grand Prix campaign with a silver medal in Moscow last weekend, losing to Iran's Kimia Alizadeh Zenoorin on a golden point.

Jones, who won gold at June's European Games in Baku, said before the competition that she was intending to develop her style and believes her new punching prowess should have paid dividends in Russia.

"I did that in the final [punched to the body] which I thought should have scored but I didn't get it," Jones told the BBC's Radio Wales Sport programme.

Jade Jones wins gold in taekwondo for Great Britain

"I'm still not perfect yet for Rio but those Grands Prix are like [World] Championships, so to be getting to the finals every time is amazing to even do that.

"So I'm definitely in a good place going into Rio; there's still a year to go so I'm excited to see how much I can improve and how much I can change by then.

"I've had to learn to be mentally stronger and my kicks have gone faster... everything has got better now but I had youth on my side back then [at London 2012] - no fear and not over thinking!"

The second of this season's four Grands Prix events takes place in Samsun, Turkey, on 18-20 September, with Jones aiming to make amends for her final defeat in Russia.

"I'm really looking to go and win in Turkey, especially because I was so disappointed to lose so stupidly in the final in Moscow," she added.

"I was in control, I was winning 3-0 so all I had to do was run out of the ring or do anything and I juts got kicked in the head with five seconds to go."

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