2012 SUMMER OLYMPICS Athletes to watch
ABOVE PHOTO: Nicola Adams.
Nicola Adams and Natasha Jonas have made history by becoming the first British women boxers to qualify for the Olympic Games after victories in the world championships in Qinhuangdao, China.
Adams pulled off a magnificent 13-11 win over India’s five-times world champion Mary Kom to reach the flyweight semi‑finals, guaranteeing at least a bronze medal and more importantly a place at London 2012.
And Liverpool lightweight Jonas was in superb form as she beat Norway’s Ingrid Egner 23-9. Other results conspired to leave Jonas – who also guarantees a world bronze – a place at the Games.
And there could yet be more joy for the British women’s team with Hartlepool middleweight Savannah Marshall standing just one more win from qualification after beating China’s Jinzi Li 20-8.
Unluckily for Marshall, all four of the middleweight semi-finalists are Europeans, and with only three European qualifying places available, she must now beat Russia’s Nadezda Torlopova to make sure.
Victory for Adams crowned a remarkable comeback from a career-threatening back injury in 2009, and made up for her long years of fighting with little acclaim and almost no funding.
Adams, a Guardian Olympic diarist, said: “You can’t imagine how happy I am not only to finally reach the Olympic Games but to beat a five-time world champion in order to get there.
“I’m boxing the best people in the world at the moment and I’m still coming out on top. My confidence is going through the roof and I want to go further and win the world title and then the Olympics.”
Adams, who has twice previously won world silver medals, admitted she thought her Olympic dream was over after spending much of 2009 laid out with a back injury, just as the women’s sport was promoted to Olympic status.
Adams added: “I was laid up without moving for three months and when I first got back to training I couldn’t do one single sit-up. But today all the hard work, the tears and the ups and downs have paid off.
“Not only that but it is brilliant for the team because Natasha has qualified too and Savannah is getting close. We are all focusing on trying to win the world titles and then it will be all about the Olympics.”