Nicola Adams Targets London Olympics Spot
Britain’s most successful female boxer Nicola Adams hopes to put a six-month injury nightmare behind her after landing a place on the nation’s first fully-funded programme for the push towards London 2012.
Adams was one of seven fighters named on Thursday by the British Amateur Boxing Association in their first elite female squad, who will compete for one of three available places for the discipline’s debut in the Games.
The 27-year-old from Bradford made history by becoming the first British boxer to reach a World Championship podium in Ningbo, China in 2008 when she came home with a silver medal.
But soon after her career was plunged into doubt when a back injury ruled her out of the sport for six months at the same time as the contenders were lining up to earn a place on BABA’s first funded programme.
However, Adams has landed her place under performance director Robert McCracken. She will compete for the 51kg flyweight slot along with Portsmouth’s Lucy O’Connor and Nina Smith of Essex.
Reigning European Union champion Natasha Jonas and experienced Amanda Coulson are joined by teenager Ruth Raper at 60kg, while promising 18-year-old Savannah Marshall is the only named fighter at 75kg.
Adams said: “I came home from the Worlds feeling great about my future but then the injury left me totally devastated and I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself.
“I could do nothing for six months apart from swimming and I panicked because by then the selection process had started. Finally I was able to do a full training session last weekend and I think that swung it in my favour.”
Adams was sharply critical of the lack of funding for women’s boxing prior to the announcement of inclusion in the 2012 Games, insisting: “I won my World Championship medal with basically no financial support.
“We’ve now got to try to catch up with countries who have been funding for years but if we can be good without funding we are going to be brilliant now the funding is in place. I am targeting one thing and that is a gold medal in London.”
The selected athletes will be based alongside their male counterparts at the Sheffield Institute of Sport in fortnightly training camps, where they will have access to the full GB Boxing performance team.
McCracken said: “All seven women have done brilliantly to be selected from such a strong pool of talent but the challenge now is to improve and move on to the next level.
“This is not a closed shop and all the squad need to work hard and keep improving to maintain their place. Those that missed out on selection can still come into consideration for 2012 if they train hard and keep doing well.”
O’Connor, another reigning EU champion who will be competing against Adams for the 51kg slot, will be allowed to take time off from her job within the Royal Navy to concentrate on the sport full-time.
O’Connor said: “I played hockey for England and I only took up boxing at the age of 27 to lose weight so never in my wildest dreams did I consider I might have the chance to fight at an Olympic Games.
“London is my aim now and my career is on hold. Women’s boxing is growing all the time in this country and it is great to be a part of that. The fact we have achieved so much already speaks volumes for the strength in depth in our sport.”