EBONIE JONES geared up for her national title assault and promised: I’m ready.
The News Sports Awards young sportswoman of the year begins her England Boxing Youth Championship campaign today in County Durham.
And the Heart of Portsmouth (HOP) starlet knows she is the one everyone is gunning for in her 51kg category.
Jones is aiming to win the national title for the fourth year but is well aware the competition will be stronger than ever.
There were seven boxers entered in her category before illness forced England’s Emma Dolan out.
Jones already has a victory over Dolan to her name last year but will have a new rival in Chesterfield’s Jade Ashmore.
Ashmore is another England international stepping down from 54kg into the Drayton girl’s category.
Jones knows she is the one they are coming for.
But that is making her doubly determined to make her mark and stay on course for a place in Great Britain’s elite podium squad.
Jones said: ‘I’m boxing to win it for the fourth time.
‘It’s a quarter, semi and final over the same weekend.
‘I’ve been really up for it and it’s all I can think of in training lately.
‘I’m working hard and I’ve been supported by my club and my family to get ready. They have given me a lot of backing.
‘I know there’s a lot of girls in my weight – and they want to beat me.
‘So that means I have to be even more determined to be at my best.’
HOP head coach Q Shillingford believes Jones steps into the competition in tip-top form and has been showing her quality in training.
He explained Jones, who is also trained at HOP by the likes of Colin Williams, goes into action with her confidence thriving after her recent win at the Nations’ Cup in Serbia.
Shillingford said: ‘Ebonie has really put it in and has been flying in training.
‘She works hard but has stepped it up again.
‘After winning out in Serbia she knows she belongs at that level now.
‘These girls are out to knock her off her perch, though.
‘Jade Ashmore is coming down to this weight and will be thinking about England.
‘It’s down to Ebonie to put it on her if and when they meet.
‘We’re really pleased with her so far – but now it’s about going out and showing the work she’s put in for this championship.’
Meanwhile, Jones has admitted her surprise at picking up a double title haul at The News Sports Awards last week.
Jones was named young sportswoman of the year and picked up the runner-up award in the prestigious sportswoman of the year category – a section she wasn’t aware she was on the short list for.
She said: ‘I didn’t even know I’d been nominated for sportswoman of the year as well as young sportswoman of the year.
‘So when I saw my name on the list I was really pleased.
‘It’s totally unexpected to be in there at my age. The category for sportswomen is so strong.
‘There was some really tough opposition, so it’s pleasing to be in there.’