I am pushing well. I want to take that into Swansea and the Commonwealths as they are my main aims this year.
Great Britain’s 18-year-old wheelchair racer Jade Jones will begin her A-level exams on Monday (9 June) marking the start of a summer she hopes will see her make a major breakthrough both on and off the track.
After finishing her exams in the next two weeks, Jones hopes to make the English team for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the British squad for the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships, knowing that she is in good form.
“I’ve been pushing well this year but as I’ve got exams coming up my focus is a little bit off training at the moment as I’ve got so much going on,” said Jones who is studying A-levels in biology, chemistry and law.
“But I have had a solid winter and I am pushing well. I want to take that into Swansea and the Commonwealths as they are my main aims this year. It’s great to have so many big events in one year. It’s good to get that race experience and hopefully it will be my first breakthrough.”
Currently placed in the top five of the 2014 world rankings for the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m T54 events, Jones is well aware that she might make the podium at her first European Championships which take place at Swansea University between 18-23 August. She is less sure however, how she will react if she does.
“It’s hard to predict as it would be my first podium at a senior event. I think it would be incredible! All my family will be there to watch which will be really nice. It would be really good to do it at a home event,” she said.
Despite her teenage years, Jones is something of a veteran of the circuit having competed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, events she says have given her valuable experience.
“The girls race so differently at a majors to say a Grand Prix. The tactics and everything are completely different when racing for medals,” said Jones who made the finals of the 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m at last year’s World Championships in Lyon, France.
“From London, the biggest learning was the crowds. I really struggled with it in my first event. My coach said to me it will be busy, full and noisy. I kind of took it with a pinch of salt as it was a Paralympic event and we’d never had that coverage.
“When I got there and they announced my name for the first event the whole stadium erupted. I had absolutely no idea what to do!
“Getting that experience and taking it onto the next event has really helped. At first I saw it as pressure but my coach told me not to see it as pressure as the people were there to support me. It took me a while to get it into my head but when I did, it was amazing to race with such support.”
Swansea 2014 will be Jones’ first European Championships, and the Middlesbrough native is delighted at the level of support para-athletics is now receiving from the public and the media post London 2012.
“The coverage we have had since London has changed so much. I remember racing at the World Championships in New Zealand in 2011 and we were a highlights show on Channel 4 for maybe an hour a day.
“To go from that to full coverage in London was incredible and I think Channel 4 is going to do something similar for the Europeans. If we can keep it going, it will be really good.”
Jones will be one of 600 athletes from 40 countries competing at the Swansea 2014 IPC Athletics European Championships.
Tickets for the event at Swansea University are now on-sale and can be purchased via the Swansea 2014 ticket website. Prices start from £3 per session.
Media accreditation for the event is also now open via the event homepage.