Star-struck Adams has her fingers crossed for Ennis
Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams insists she has little chance of winning the BBC Sports Personality of the Year vote on Sunday, but hopes another female role model such as Jessica Ennis or Katherine Grainger takes the award.
Adams, 30, became the world’s first women’s Olympic boxing champion when she triumphed in the flyweight division at the London Games, and since then she has become a household name.
Life for Adams has changed completely since winning gold. Indeed, it could even be described as hectic ... but in a good way.
A trip to Brazil with the Prime Minister. Visiting Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. A VIP invitation to the latest Twilight movie premiere. Even, thrillingly, an appearance on All Star Family Fortunes.
But underneath all of that, she is still the same girl from Leeds who arrived at London 2012 desperate to make her mark.
She insists she was surprised to make the 12-name shortlist for the BBC award, confirms that she will go for gold again in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, and says her biggest ambition now is to take an action role in a future James Bond film.
After the year that she has had, who is going to dare tell her that a movie career alongside 007 is not possible?
“It’s been fantastic,” she says. “The people I have met, the places I could never have dreamed of going as a lass from Leeds. Amazing. To be honest, there’s been so many things I’ve started to forget everything ... it’s just been mad, absolutely mad.
“I couldn’t believe I was up for nomination. I’d definitely say that being named was one of the highlights of my life. But there are so many great athletes on the list I’m not even thinking about winning, I’m just happy to be nominated. I’m going to go to the show and have some fun – but I know my chances are quite slim.
“I hope Jessica Ennis or Katherine Grainger win. I trained alongside Jess and I saw how hard she worked, while Katharine had won so many silvers and then finally won a gold.”
Ennis won the heptathlon gold at the Olympics, while Grainger won the double sculls, after finishing runner-up in three previous Games.
Adams has found herself thrust into the position of being a role model – she is now president of the charity Us Girls, which aims to get girls aged from 16 to 24 back into sport – and wants British women’s contribution to the Olympics to be recognised.
She added: “It took quite a while to sink in, but people started telling me that I had made history and was a role model so I am now embracing that and I view it as a responsibility.
“I think we showed in London how important women’s sport is in this country.”
As for the future, Adams will resist any thoughts of turning professional.
“My goals are straightforward: to go to the European Championships, and then the worlds, and hopefully get another first after three silvers there, and then defend my title at Rio.”
Her other ambition is on the silver screen, and Adams harbours hopes of being given an acting role in an action film.
“I would love an action part in a James Bond film,” she confessed. “I went to see Skyfall and thought it was fantastic.
“All these things have happened to me since winning the Olympics – who would have thought I would be handing out the prizes at the MOBO awards? – so I’ve learned to realise that everything is possible.”
Adams may not emerge as the BBC winner on Sunday – but she has few rivals in terms of personality.
Her smile lit up the whole of London on that glorious August afternoon at the ExCeL. An afternoon which not only changed her life forever, but also transformed the sport of women’s boxing in Britain too.
Her victory as a largely unknown underdog over three-time world champion Ren Cancan changed everything.
“It was definitely the best I’ve ever boxed,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how good I was doing. Everything I tried, everything we had been working on for months, came off. It’s been a bit crazy ever since.
“Just a walk to the corner shop, which usually takes 10 minutes, can take a good 30 minutes. You want to sign every piece of paper, and every photograph, but you just can’t. Funnily enough, most of my fan mail just says Nicola Adams, Olympic champion, or Nicola Adams, Leeds, on the envelope. Somehow it finds its way to my home address.
“The Olympics has definitely inspired the next generation, too.
“I’m always getting tweets or messages on Facebook saying: ‘You’ve inspired me to take up boxing or sport.’ And that’s not just kids, it’s adults as well.
“They’re taking up training, losing weight, feeling better about themselves.”
For Adams, the glory and recognition are rewards for all of the hard work in not only developing her craft, but also in breaking down the boundaries ... or changing the way people think about women and sport.
She is a hero to so many, but she will never change.
“I know how hard I had to work to get here and I will not stop,” she says. “I am still the same Nicola from Leeds.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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