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Haringey club member makes Olympic history

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Nicola Adams won Olympic gold in emphatic style to make boxing history at the ExCel today – three years after breaking her back.

The 29-year-old Haringey Police club member became the first female champion in the history of the Games, after a convincing 16-7 win against China’s Ren Cancan in the flyweight division.

Adams put the defending world champion on the canvas in the second round during a stunning performance and can now boast an Olympic title like her idols Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard.

An accident in 2009 had left Adams with a cracked vertebrae and bed-ridden for months, but with a gold medal finally hung proudly around her neck, she said: “I can’t believe I’ve actually done it.

“When I was in bed for three months, not even able to do one sit-up, it was really hard to think I’d get up to boxing speed and move as quick as before.

“But I did it, I improved and came back stronger, with determination and a will to succeed. I’ve got a lot to thank (Dr) Mike Loosemore for.

“You never know what’s going to happen, so I’ve enjoyed the moment and I’m taking everything in.”

The boxing fans had been praised prior to the fight for the Olympic spirit they have shown during competition at these Games.

And the female boxers were also credited with displaying ‘finer skills than some of the men’.

Adams and Cancan certainly provided a bout as entertaining as any from their male counterparts over the past week or so.

The tension was palpable as the contest got underway, but Adams threw good lefts and rights early on, before the two combatants traded punches at close range.

Another good right caught Cancan, winner of their last meeting at the World Championships in China in May, on the chin and led to cries of ‘Go on Nicola!’ from the stands as she built a 4-2 lead in the opening two minutes.

The second round opened in real ding-dong style with a flurry of punches thrown by the two rivals, and Adams putting Cancan against the ropes.

Then, with 52 seconds left on the clock, a left hook clipped the chin of Cancan, before a following right put her down.

As the Chinese fighter was given a standing count, the crowd roared into chants of ‘Nic-o-la, Nic-o-la’ and the Adams lead grew to 9-4 at the midway mark.

Cancan had to attack in the third round, but Adams landed a good right and countered well to extend her advantage to an unassailable 14-5 at the bell.

A good left jab rocked Cancan’s head back in the fourth and final round and Adams stayed out of trouble in the closing stages to cement her triumph.

She added: “I was confident going to the ring, I’ve been confident all week, thinking I can really do this.

“I went in fully focused, I’ve got to be focused and confident. I had no other option but to win.

“I stuck to the tactics the coaches gave me and I’ve worked hard since China and it paid off. Also having belief in myself.

“I thought it was going to be a bit closer, but I was so determined to win. I wasn’t going to let her win!”

Haringey Police club founder and president Gerry Willmott MBE was delighted to see Adams prevail and said: “She’s got the gold she deserved today. She’s dedicated her life to it, she had a bad back injury a few years ago and she worked so hard to get through it.

“She’s a credit to women’s boxing, she’s a credit to herself and she’s a credit to Haringey Boxing Club.”

Victory for Adams took Great Britain’s gold medal count to 24, following dressage success an hour or so earlier, and their overall total to 51 – and the GB men’s boxing squad could add further medals yet.

Adams added: “The crowd have been amazing, cheering as much for us as they have the lads.

“All I could hear was people chanting my name and I thought ‘bloody hell’! But hopefully this will inspire the lads to go on and get more.”

And the new Olympic champion, who said she would like to defend her title in Rio in 2016, is also hoping her efforts can help the next generation of young sportswomen follow their own dreams.

She added: “More girls getting into boxing and participating is what I want to see. It will give me an amazing feeling.

“When I first got into boxing, Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray were my greats. I wanted to do what they did, so if girls get into boxing because of me (it will be great).

“When I started I was so young, I wasn’t really into the politics side. I just wanted to do what Ali and Leonard did. Now the girls have a couple of role models like me and Katie (Taylor) to look up to is great.

“Whether it’s boxing or whatever, it could be just a job you’re after, if you work hard and are dedicated anything is possible.”

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