16 August 2012

“Jade Jones: Welsh national hero”

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Wales is ecstatic, we’ve caught a dose of gold fever and we’re all dizzy. To what extent, you ask? I think the headlines of The Flintshire Chronicle, the local paper in Flint, Wales, illustrate the point best “Golden girl Jade Jones Returns to Flint” and “Parents of Jade Jones speak of her ‘dream come true'”.

There are more headlines dedicated to taekwondo gold medallist Jade Jones that I could list, but since she’s pretty much dominated the news agenda in north Wales since her Olympic victory, I wouldn’t have any room to say anything else. But considering the circumstances, the daily tributes are more than justified.

The 19 year-old beat Chinese opponent Tseng Li-Cheng in the taekwondo 57kg weight category final to take gold, and Welsh hearts in the process. In the world there’s no woman in her weight category better at the Korean sport. We were all, and still are, so proud of this herculean achievement.

What a relief it was as well. The huge surge of positive PR for the Welsh Olympians couldn’t have come at a better time. Yes, during this time of euphoria, tears of joy and smiles in the sunshine some were accused of denting the national pride, none more so than the Welsh.

The most notable example was the Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy and Joe Allen debacle. The day before Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony extravaganza, during the Senegal Vs. Great Britain Men’s football match, the Welsh players refused to sing the British national anthem. Website forums and newspaper columnists had a field day.

Once everyone accepted that the Welsh players would only sing the Welsh national anthem (as they should) it was time for another Celtic hero, Dai Greene, Captain of Team GB athletics, to help bridge this divide. But no, the 400m hurdles gold medal he spoke of owning prior to the games, was lost spectacularly.

This wasn’t good, Welsh footballers refusing to sing God save the Queen and now our biggest hope fails to deliver on the day.

Who knew that Jade would turn out to be the face on a postage stamp, the receiver of a gold post box and a national hero in her home country?

As much as everyone in Wales would like to think she worked and trained so hard just for us, just for Wales, it couldn’t be further from the truth. On the evening of August 9th when she claimed victory and celebrated with her Coach Paul Green, she wasted no time in picking up two things from her corner before running around the ring, the setting for her victory. In one hand she held the Welsh flag, in the other the Union Jack.

That night, I think everyone in Wales would have said they were British.

Daniel Lloyd is a journalist and grew up in Wales.



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