Jade Jones has vowed to target next year’s Tokyo Olympics with renewed intent after finally ending her long wait for a world taekwondo title at the Manchester Arena.
The 26-year-old beat defending -57kg champion Lee ah-Reum 14-7 to claim her elusive world crown at the fifth attempt, having lost to the South Korean in the semi-finals in Muju two years ago.
Despite previously admitting to motivational issues after reaching the top of her sport at such a young age, Jones said winning the world title will focus her mind on making more history in the sport.
Jones told Press Association Sport: “I’m buzzing because I know I can retire happy now, but I want to become a legend and no-one has ever won three Olympic golds.
“I always felt I’d never truly be happy even if I became a three-time Olympic champion. The worlds is one of the most prestigious events in our sport and I’m so happy to be able to say I’m world champion.”
Jones’ success, having maintained a lead throughout her final from the moment she landed a two-point body kick in the opening seconds, came in sharp contrast to the controversial success of her friend and team-mate Bianca Walkden.
Walkden had claimed her third straight world title on Friday night via a disqualification win over China’s Zheng Shuyin, a verdict which was described as a “scandal” by furious members of the Chinese taekwondo federation.
The 27-year-old Walkden, who was reduced to tears again on Saturday following a quarter-final defeat for her boyfriend Aaron Cook, who now competes for Moldova, is yet to emulate Jones as an Olympic champion.
And for Jones there could be little sweeter than leaving Tokyo having witnessed Walkden – with whom she shares a flat in Manchester – emulate her own success in securing the single major title that still eludes her.
Jones added: “Me and Bianca live together and train together and we are constantly pushing each other – we’ll give each other nosebleeds and go home in a mood with each other.
“We constantly push each other to be the best in the gym, let alone in the ring. Without Bianca I wouldn’t be where I am today and it would be amazing to go to Tokyo and both become Olympic champions together.”
Britain’s hopes of increasing their tally of four medals from the Championships were ended on the final day of competition when Mahama Cho bowed out in the men’s +87kg quarter-finals.
Cho lost in ‘golden point’ overtime to Brazil’s Maicon Siqueira, who had also denied the Briton a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Earlier, Lutalo Muhammad withdrew from the -87kg competition due to injury.