The Olympian two-time gold medallist and undefeated boxing champion spoke to Vodafone on International Women’s Day about resilience, being a role model and Strictly Come Dancing.
“It was 2009. Women’s boxing had just been announced – that it was going to be an Olympic sport. And I remember thinking to myself, oh my god, I’m so happy!
“Then at the same time, I was just laying in bed because I couldn’t move and had damaged the vertebrae in my back.”
This visceral memory would be startling testimony from anyone, but especially so from Nicola Adams, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in women’s flyweight boxing. For Nicola, who spoke by livestream to an audience at Vodafone’s Newbury headquarters to mark International Women’s Day, the journey back to the ring was an incredibly tough one.
She credits the support of her team, friends and family for her ultimately successful but gruelling months–long road to recovery, in addition to her own resilience.
“Every week I gave myself a new challenge that I could complete and work towards to give me a little bit more motivation. I knew my ultimate aim, my ultimate goal, was being an Olympic champion and I created smaller steps to help me get there.”
From rolling with the punches to role model
Nicola not only reached the 2012 Olympic Games in London, she also won the first-ever gold medal for women’s boxing there and was the first openly LGBT person to win any Olympic boxing medal.
Despite the relief of meeting the immense expectations placed upon her – having been tipped as a favourite before she even qualified for the 2012 Games – she says she found the subsequent 2016 Rio Games even tougher due to the intense competition for her title.
“I always had to come with my ‘A’ game. I couldn’t cut any corners. They say it’s easier being the underdog and it’s harder to stay at the top,” Nicola says of the 2016 bouts.
Nicola wears her status as a role model lightly, saying: “I know I represent so many different people, but for me I’ve just always been happy with myself and happy in my own skin.”