Jones plans to bow out on her own terms
BEIJING-bound Natalie Jones is planning to bow out at the height of her profession but for the time being a second consecutive Paralympic gold medal is high on her list of priorities.
Jones, 23, has yet to make up her mind whether she will go for a fourth Paralympics in London in 2012 - with the likes of fellow Brits Nyree Lewis and Eleanor Simmonds snapping away hard at her heels.
Since landing 200m medley gold in Athens - world record holder Jones, who competed at the Manchester Paralympic World Cup in May, has remained the best in her discipline on the planet.
And after seeing Paralympic great Tanni Grey-Thompson calls time on her illustrious career 12 months ago in Manchester - Jones want to bow out at the very top of world swimming.
"I'll never-say-never but I'll make my mind up after the 2010 World Championships," said Jones, who went to both the Sydney and Athens Paralympics. "I don't want to be referred to in London as that swimmer who used to be the best in the world or used to hold the world record.
"I want to choose when I call it a day - I don't want to be swimming the same times in London as I am now and get beaten by fellow Brits and others swimmers from around the world.
"Eleanor Simmonds is only 13 at the moment so by London she will really be putting me under pressure.
"I admire Tanni Grey-Thompson so much - she was a wonderful athlete and I was disappointed she decided to retire a year before the Beijing Olympics. But I admire her for leaving on a high and not heading to Beijing with any regrets."
With no European Championships last year - this summer's Beijing Paralympics represents Jones' first major Games since landing double gold at the Durban World Championships in 2006.
British swimming surpassed its Sydney medal haul in Athens four years ago, finishing second overall in the Paralympic medal table behind the impressive China.
And with Beijing preparations set to be finalised in the coming weeks - Jones, who worked as a travel agent in Colchester before going full-time as a swimmer in 2004, is hoping to return home from China in September weighed down with silverware.
"2004 was fantastic to win gold in the medley but in Beijing I'd love to go one better and win the 200m IM and the 100m freestyle," she added.
"There's such strength in depth in the British squad at present and competing domestically is almost as tough as competing internationally.
"Winning gold would represent a successful season but for the time being I'm just concentrating on my preparation."