In memory of baby Ruby – why Rio Paralympian Jade Jones will race wearing ruby necklace
always brings a special necklace with her wherever she competes and at the 2016 Paralympic Games she will wear a ruby pendant, a tribute to her niece, Ruby, who died recently at just nine-days-old. ADE Jones
The 20-year-old Teesside University law student who is also a member of its elite athlete scheme was commemorated by proud staff at its campus in Middlesbrough and presented with a crystal keepsake before she jets off to Rio next week.
The wheelchair racer said she was excited about the adventure ahead. “I am in a completely different position than when I competed in London 2012, I was 16 then. Although it was four-years-ago I will still be one of the youngest on the start line but I am a lot stronger and fitter now.
“It’s four years of intense training that comes down to one moment but the only one who’s putting pressure on myself is me.”
Having avidly watched the Olympic Games – the dramatic track cycling success in the velodrome standing out as a highlight – Jade is looking forward to settling down in the athletes’ village and immersing herself in the Paralympic experience.
Jade was first encouraged to take up wheelchair racing by 11 times Paralympic gold medallist Tanni Grey-Thompson and is trained by Tanni’s husband, Ian.
She has also competed in the Commonwealth Games and the European Championships and was a finalist in the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year award.
In 2012 she competed in London in the 400m, 800m and 1,500m events so to prepare for the sweltering temperatures expected in Rio, she has been working out in the University’s specialist environment chamber, which recreates the exact climate conditions expected in Brazil.
Pounding local roads and cycle paths each week to stay in peak fitness, the Middlesbrough-born wheelchair racer said her friends were supportive of her disciplined lifestyle.
“On the face of it, it looks like I have made sacrifices but it has never felt like I have missed out on anything as I love what I do so much. If if I couldn’t compete, I would still train.
“I have got really supportive friends, we are a really tight-knit group – they don’t question why I’m having salad when they are eating pizza.
“Being an athlete has given me so many more experiences, I have been able to travel and race around the world.”
As well as the gift from Teesside University and the well-wishes she will be taking with her to Rio, she will be bringing a precious necklace with a ruby-red stone in memory of her baby niece. “I always wear a necklace when I compete and this way Ruby will be with me in spirit.”