Adams torn be­tween mak­ing movies and Tokyo 2020

Olympic boxing cham­pion faces a dilemma over the next stage of her ca­reer, she tells Gareth A Davies

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT -

It is not sur­pris­ing that dou­ble Olympic fly­weight cham­pion Ni­cola Adams would like to see ath­lete Mo Farah take the Sports Per­son­al­ity of the Year hon­ours if boxing’s most adept fe­male ama­teur fails to get the pub­lic vote tonight. Of all Farah’s qual­i­ties, she ad­mires how he re­cov­ered from be­ing knocked to the ground in the Olympic 10,000 me­tres fi­nal and went on to claim gold. “For me, it has to be Mo Farah. Get­ting up off the floor and go­ing on to win took a lot of de­ter­mi­na­tion,” the 34-year-old told The Sun­day Tele­graph. “It is the mark of a cham­pion.” Box­ers know that per­haps more than any other sports­peo­ple.

Adams bat­tled back from in­jury in 2015 to be­come a cre­ative fight­ing force, de­scrib­ing 2016 as “the dream year”. “I’m over the moon to be in the SPOTY short­list again [Adams fin­ished eighth in the pub­lic vote in 2012],” ex­plained the ‘Smil­ing As­sas­sin’, as the fly­weight is known. “I’ve achieved ev­ery­thing I need to achieve in my sport. I’m No 1 in the world, I’ve got the grand slam of ti­tles, the world, Euro­peans, Com­mon­wealth and I’m dou­ble Olympic cham­pion.”

At the start of 2016, Adams tar­geted that ‘grand slam’ of world, Euro­pean and Olympic gold. “That would have been the plan. As we know, boxing is a hard sport and you have to work re­ally hard to achieve all those goals, es­pe­cially in one year. I got gold in the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships in April and then went on from there, a cou­ple of weeks af­ter, and got gold at the world cham­pi­onships and then went on to the Olympics a few weeks af­ter that and got gold there. It was a re­ally tough few months, but there was deep sat­is­fac­tion at the end of the sum­mer.”

Grow­ing recog­ni­tion as one of Bri­tain’s lead­ing fe­male sports stars, and in­deed role mod­els, has led to the woman from Leeds be­ing in­vited to guest-edit BBC Ra­dio 4’s To­day, which will have an all-fe­male cast of guest ed­i­tors for the first time over Christ­mas. Adams joins ac­tor Carey Mul­li­gan, busi­ness­woman He­lena Mor­ris­sey and the Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer, Dame Sally Davies, for a week of pro­gram­ming start­ing the day af­ter Boxing Day.

Adams will over­see the pro­gramme on Dec 29 with seg­ments on com­bat sports and women’s boxing. Con­trib­u­tors will in­clude Gor­don Ram­say dis­cussing his love of mar­tial arts and boxer Ricky Hat­ton talk­ing about his ex­pe­ri­ences of de­pres­sion.

“It’s quite ex­cit­ing,” ex­plained Adams. “I’ve never done any­thing like that be­fore so it’s go­ing to be cool. I’m hop­ing to make ev­ery­body smile as they start their day. Deep down, I just want to make it ‘fun’.”

In spite of be­ing an elite ath­lete in one of the tough­est in­di­vid­ual sports, Adams fights with a smile. But she is al­ways deeply com­pet­i­tive, too, even with SPOTY. “I need to make the top three this year. Hope­fully I can.”

Her call to the Bri­tish pub­lic is straight­for­ward. “I’d like to hope the pub­lic would vote for me. I’ve achieved ev­ery­thing there is to achieve in my sport. There is noth­ing else I can win. I’m ranked No 1. I’d like to think they’d take that into con­sid­er­a­tion.”

Adams believes that more box­ers should have been on the short­list – such as two-weight world cham­pion Carl Framp­ton and world heavy­weight cham­pion An­thony Joshua. But she ad­mits “it was a re­ally tough year and it must have been hard for the judg­ing panel. There were so many gold medal­lists at the Olympics”.

Adams is now con­sid­er­ing whether to pledge her­self to an­other four-year cy­cle to com­pete at Tokyo 2020, which could place her along­side the elite list of box­ers to have won gold at three suc­ces­sive Games: only Lás­zló Papp, Félix Savón and Teó­filo Steven­son have achieved it. But an­other op­tion is to join the pro­fes­sional ranks.

“The last four years have been hard. Be­ing ranked No 1, ev­ery­body’s chas­ing you, ev­ery­body wants to be where you are. They want to be the per­son who beats Ni­cola Adams,” she ex­plained. “It’s easy to sit at the top and take things lightly and think you’ve made it and no­body can beat you now. You can take your foot off the gas. Then some­body comes up, an un­der­dog, and knocks you off the top of the podium. I’ve just shown how fo­cus and de­ter­mined I can be when I put my mind to it.

“I’m still hav­ing a good think about the next four years. Turn­ing pro would be an ex­cit­ing chal­lenge for me, open­ing new doors, new chal­lenges, new ti­tles I can take – Euro­pean, world. I’d love to be able to do that. It’s def­i­nitely an op­tion.”

But there will be no rush in that de­ci­sion. “I haven’t sat down with my team to de­cide whether I’m go­ing to do the pro thing, go to Tokyo, or even go into act­ing. I’ve al­ready been do­ing act­ing lessons. I’m tak­ing it se­ri­ously. I like the idea of a new chal­lenge. I’ll be de­cid­ing in the next few weeks.”

As Adams looks back on 2016, an an­nus mirabilis on her ré­sumé, there is a nod to her ex­tended teams. “My team at GB boxing, my fam­ily, my part­ner. I owe it all to them for keep­ing me to­gether. You need to be self­ish in this sport. I miss birth­days, wed­dings, chris­ten­ings be­cause I’m al­ways in train­ing or at a tour­na­ment. With­out their sup­port I wouldn’t be where I am to­day.”

‘I’d like to think the pub­lic would vote for me. I’ve achieved all there is to achieve in my sport’

Fists of glory: Ni­cola Adams cel­e­brates in Rio af­ter win­ning her sec­ond suc­ces­sive Olympic gold

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