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Beaten Jones backs Walkden for GLORY.

Byline: TAEKWONDO By MARK STANIFORTH ECHO Correspondent

LIVERPOOL fighter Bianca Walkden was in tears in the stands as her best friend and flatmate Jade Jones crashed out of the Olympics.

But Jones - who missed out on the chance of becoming the first British female to win gold medals at three consecutive Games - has vowed to help Walkden bring home the medal she deserves.

Jones, 28, 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.

Now she'll divert her attention to supporting 29-year-old Walkden, from West Derby, who bids for an elusive Olympic title tomorrow.

Jones added: "Bianca's been amazing and seeing her up in the crowd crying, I think she is as hurt as me, 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."

The empty stands made for a strange environment for Jones, and she concedes she struggled to adapt.

"I just felt I put too much pressure on myself going into it and I really did feel it more than I expected," she said.

"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 twopoint lead at the end of the first round.

But Jones' 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.

Alizadeh had failed to come through qualifying but was handed a reprieve due to special dispensation afforded the Refugee Team, leaving an odd number in the draw and Jones having to wait to discover who she would face in her opening bout.

Jones' defeat brought a juddering halt to hopes of Team GB's first medal of the Games but it failed to puncture the party mood back in her home town of Flint.

"I've got the best family in the world," added Jones. "I call them 'Team Crazy' - when I lost I Facetimed them and they were all celebrating as if I'd won, and they were all so proud of me.

"So I'm really lucky to be going back to that."

CAPTION(S):

Jade Jones after her defeat to Kimia Alizadeh; inset, a tearful Bianca Walkden looks on

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Author:TAEKWONDO By MARK STANIFORTH ECHO Correspondent
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2021
Words:491
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