Haringey coach backs Nicola Adams to repay Team GB’s faith at the Olympics
11:00 24 May 2012
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Haringey Police coach Gerry Willmott MBE feared that Olympic hopeful Nicola Adams would never box again following a serious injury in 2009.
However, the club founder is now backing the GB star to complete her stunning fightback by taking the gold at London 2012 after Adams qualified for the Games at the weekend.
Ranked number two in the world at flyweight (51kg), Adams needed to reach the semi-finals of the World Championships in China to secure an Olympic spot.
And the 29-year-old, who represents Haringey Police Boxing Club, went one better as she made it to the final before losing to the world number one, China’s Ren Cancan.
Adams won the national ABA championships with Haringey Police in 2006 and also took the gold for the Tottenham-based club at the Angered Centrum Box Cup in Sweden in 2008.
However, her future was shrouded in doubt when she fell down the stairs at home in 2009, suffering a back injury which put her out of action for almost a year.
Team GB’s support was a key factor in her recovery — and Willmott says she is on course to repay them by winning the ultimate prize.
“She’s quite capable of getting the gold,” said the 57-year-old, who grew up in Wood Green. “It’s the third time she’s won silver at the World Championships [after 2008 and 2010]. It’s a good competition to have at this stage, so close to the Games.
“I spoke to her on Sunday night. She felt she could have done a bit better in China but she feels she’s peaking at the right time. A bit of home-town support will do her the world of good in London — she can definitely do it.
“She had a bad back injury and we thought she’d never box again, so it’s fantastic to see her doing so well.
“At the time, she couldn’t do anything so she was depressed and fed up. We kept telling her that everything would be alright, but we were just hoping really.
“She went up to Sheffield and the GB physios did a lot of work with her. Realistically, she’s always been one of our best boxing hopes so they’ve put a lot of faith and time and effort into her and that’s all paying off now.
“We’re very proud. It’s wonderful to have an athlete representing a Haringey club, given what this borough has been through in the last year or so.”
Adams beat five-time world champion Mery Kom (India) 13-11 en route to the world final, but was outpointed 13-10 by Cancan — who also beat her in the final four years ago.
Willmott added: “This close to the Games, there won’t be any surprises. Kom is always up there too so Nicola knows who she’ll have to beat.
“Cancan’s not particularly strong, physically, but she’s very good on her feet and she’s got very fast hands. She’s similar to Nicola, who’s a clever girl, a very good technical boxer.
“Hopefully her team are putting together a plan which will get those extra two or three points and deliver the gold.”
As the top two fighters in the world at flyweight, Adams and Cancan have developed a fierce rivalry.
Adams won their last meeting in February en route to winning the Strandja Cup in Bulgaria and, although she lost their latest showdown on Cancan’s home soil in China, she insists the roles will be reversed in London in July.
“This hasn’t dented my confidence,” said Adams. “In London, it will be on my own turf so the score will be different then. I’ll be going for gold.
“A few years ago I was laid up without moving for three months, and when I first got back to training I couldn’t do a single sit-up. But now all the hard work, the tears and the ups and downs have paid off.”