Yorkshire’s Nicola Adams shed tears of joy after becoming the first British boxer to retain an Olympic boxing title in 92 years at Riocentro on Saturday.
The 33-year-old from Leeds was overcome with emotion as she stood on top of the podium with her second gold medal around her neck after unanimously outpointing Sarah Ourahmoune of France.
For Adams her victory marked the culmination of a gruelling four-year journey, in which injuries and the difficulties of juggling the celebrity status she earned after London 2012 often threatened to derail her hopes of making more history.
Adams said: “I don’t cry – I can’t remember the last time I cried – so to shed a tear on that podium showed how much it meant to me.
“I didn’t think I was going to cry when I got up there then it all got a little bit overwhelming.
“I think it was just in the past four years I have had shoulder operations, ankle injuries and become a European, world and Olympic champion in the same year and I guess I was just reflecting on that and I got quite emotional.”
By winning back-to-back boxing titles Adams emulated Londoner Harry Mallin, who won consecutive Olympic middleweight titles in 1920 and 1924.
After starting sluggishly in her previous two contests, Adams looked sharp from the start against Ourahmoune, whom she had beaten comfortably in their last two bouts.
Although the three judges favoured the French fighter’s aggression in the third, there was never any real doubt that Adams would emerge victorious and she celebrated her hand being raised with her usual Ali Shuffle.
Leeds-born Adams will be 37 by the time Tokyo 2020 rolls around, but she remained elusive when pressed about her future plans, saying only that she intends to go on holiday and consider her options.
They could also include a move onto the women’s professional circuit, or retirement to pursue her other interests, including developing an acting career which has previously seen her make a fleeting appearance on Coronation Street.
“London 2012 changed my life completely and I’m guessing it’s going to continue after winning the Olympic gold medal here,” admitted Adams. “I’m still the same person, but I get to go to movie premieres and award shows, meet the queen and receive an MBE.
“It has been an amazing four years.
“It’s been a big balancing act the whole way through.
“But my team’s been really good, giving me time to do award shows and time to train, so I guess everything else will stay the same. There’s no point changing anything – it’s working well.”
Ultimately Adams’ path to double gold proved distinctly more serene than that of Mallin, who needed nine bouts to achieve the feat, including two controversial disqualification wins. Her only difficulties arose in a below-par first-round bout against Ukrainian veteran Tetyana Kob, and a poor start to her semi-final against her old adversary Ren Cancan.
It was a mark of how much she continues to dominate her division four years on, though, that despite clearly losing the first round of her 2016 semi-final to the Chinese fighter, she effortlessly stepped it up to cruise into her second consecutive final.
In Ourahmoune, she was up against an opponent whom she had comfortably beaten in their previous two meetings in Turkey in April and Murcia, Spain, last year.
Despite being one year Adams’ senior, Ourahmoune, a former two-time world medallist, admitted she looked up to the Briton as a pioneer of the sport, and possessed little to suggest Adams’ double title quest was under threat.
Unlike in her two previous bouts, Adams looked sharp and swift from the start, catching her opponent with a long right in the opening seconds, and continuing to land accurate hooks as she took the early advantage in Brazil.
Barging her veteran opponent against the ropes in the second, Adams continued to assert her authority, and she continued to counter accurately against Ourahmoune’s crude, come-forward swings.
The game Ourahmoune battled hard in the third, which she won on all the cards despite appearing to have little success in landing clearly, but Adams edged a scrappier fourth to take the title.
“I’ll always be a history maker now, no matter what I decide to do (next),” added a still-emotional Adams in the media mixed zone after receiving her second gold medal.
“I think it’s just in me I like to break down barriers and create new challenges for myself.
“So long as I can find a challenge I’ll be dedicated to achieving it.”