EXCLUSIVE: Nicola Adams reflects on her Olympic gold - and inspiring a new generation
Nicola Adams says she has been overwhelmed by becoming “a famous person overnight” following her historic Olympic triumph.
And the 29-year-old, who represents Haringey Police Boxing Club in Tottenham, has been elated by her instant success in inspiring a new generation of boxers – including Boris Johnson’s son.
Adams became the first woman ever to win an Olympic boxing gold medal last week, as female fighters competed at the Games for the first time.
The British flyweight demolished the World No1, China’s Ren CanCan, 16-7 to take the title - and she says she has been blown away by the public response that has followed.
“It’s been a bit manic, I’ve gone from an Average Joe to a famous person overnight,” said Adams.
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“There have been so many highlights. I’ve met Usain Bolt in the Olympic Village, I went to Hyde Park with my gold medal and there were thousands of people there cheering for me – and obviously winning the gold in the first place was amazing!
“I’ve met Boris Johnson, and Russell Brand at the Savoy Hotel. I’m a big fan of his, he’s a funny guy so that was great. He said he watched my fight and couldn’t believe how good I was, and how well I did.”
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Adams’ fortnight had also started with a memorable moment as she entered the Olympic Stadium behind Sir Chris Hoy with the rest of Team GB, and saw her idol Muhammad Ali play a poignant part in the opening ceremony.
“That was really special, I had no idea he’d be involved,” said Adams. “I couldn’t believe he was there and that he’d made it.”
Now that London 2012 is over, Adams is reflecting on the Games’ aim to ‘inspire a generation’ – and the early indications are that she has played a key role in raising the profile and popularity of boxing in Britain, among both men and women.
“I think these Games have been really important,” she said. “I thought I would just be going out there to do the sport that I love and trying to win the gold, but loads of people have taken to women’s boxing in the last couple of weeks. We’ve done so much for the sport in general.
“The Olympics was about inspiring the next generation but I’ve really been inspired too after some of the messages I’ve had from people who have suddenly become interested in boxing because of what I’ve done.
“It’s been such an honour, I’ve just been saying thank you all the time. It’s been inspiring for me to make my country proud, and to also feel like I’ve encouraged people to take up the sport themselves.
“I met Boris Johnson on The One Show on Monday and he said he couldn’t get his son to take up sport, but now that he’s seen me on TV he’s joined a boxing club.
“The great thing about the Olympics is that it shows everyone that there are lots of different sports out there.
“Not every kid’s interested in football, so we’ve shown them there are loads of other things that they can get involved in, and hopefully they’ll be the people who are coming up behind us in the future.”
The question now is what Adams will do with her own future – and she is currently allowing her success to sink in and letting the dust settle before making any decisions.
“I haven’t had time to think,” she said. “We’ve got a month off from training now so I’m going to have a holiday and chill out and take some time to think about what I want to do next.
“There may be an option to go professional, and there’s a definitely a possibility that I might go on to Rio in 2016.”