Taekwondo: Jade Jones shows way of the foot and fist for gold at London 2012

Welsh teenager wins Britain's first ever gold in martial art event

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The Independent Online

The cheers for Nicola Adams' historic boxing victory had barely died away before across the corridor at the ExCel Arena another of Britain's feisty females was punching – and kicking – her way on to the Olympic podium as yet another British golden girl.

Jade Jones, a 19-year-old from Flint in North Wales, became the first Briton to win Olympic gold at taekwondo, the martial art they call "the way of the foot and the fist", using both with fiendish dexterity to defeat the Chinese world champion Yuzhuo Hou, the in the under-57kgs featherweight final.

The protege of Sarah Stevenson, winner of a pioneering bronze in Beijing, she ripped off her headguard, flung it in the air and ran a victory lap of honour after clinching a 6-4 points win over one of the sport's most fearsome exponents.

Jones said: "It's amazing. The crowd has just been amazing. Before I came out I was thinking that she took my world championship final. That killed me for ages.

"So I wasn't going to let her beat me here in front of a home crowd. To be the first British athlete to win an Olympic gold [in taekwondo] is just amazing."

After a scoreless first of the three minute rounds, Jones moved ahead, inflicting darting body and head shots but in the end profiting from the two penalty points that a rattled Hou had conceded.

Jade Jones may sound sound like an X-Factor wannabe but she is actually a diminutive pocket rocket who punches harder than most female boxers and kicks like a mule, attributes which have brought world championship junior and senior silver medals, a bronze in the European seniors and Britain's first gold in any sport in the Youth Olympics in Singapore. And now Olympic gold.

"What Jade has done this is just phenomenal," said Gary Hall, the GB national performance director. "She is one of these characters who is never satisfied and always wants more – she is absolutely driven to be the best."

Known as The Headhunter because of her high kicking in that direction, Jones started in taekwondo when she was eight, her grandfather taking her to a local gymnasium to "toughen me up and keep me off the streets".

"There wasn't a lot to do in my town and he wanted me to be able to defend myself," she said. "I started getting into a bit of trouble and was messing around. It was nothing too serious. I was just mischievous."

Taekwondo is one of the great success stories of British sport but has recently been immersed in controversy over the omission of world No 1 Aaron Cook from the men's squad. Last night Cook sat in the £20 seats cheering on his former team-mate.

Martin Stamper also had the chance to make this the biggest night in British taekwondo history when he reached the semi-finals of the under-68kg division but despite a battling effort was knocked out 9-6 by Turkish top seed Servet Tazegul.

The 25-year[-old Liverpudlian still had hopes of a bronze in the repechage but lost 5-3 in a tense encounter to Afghanistan's Rohullah Nikpai.


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