Dates for next set of qualifiers for the Olympic Games will be announced on Monday
Lauren Price has proven an extraordinary talent at most sports and the gain for British boxing has been enormous over the past four years, as she has become a formidable world amateur champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
But the 26-year-old from Wales is not just an amateur boxer. She is a former world champion kickboxer and senior footballer for Wales, with more than 50 caps between 2012 and 2014, the year she gave up playing football to focus on her boxing career. Some journey.
Prior to that, at the age of 13, Price competed against opponents twice her age, the youngest ever competitor in the British Championships. She was formidable, too, claiming four world championships in kickboxing. Six years after falling in love with boxing, the women’s middleweight heads out of the cancelled Olympic qualifying tournaments of 2020 and into the light of the new year intent on stamping her authority on the division at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Lockdown for Price was rough. “It was pretty tough at times. After the London qualifying tournament [cancelled after four days in March] I had two weeks at home, and I was going insane really. I didn’t know what to do. I used to train three times a day.
“At the time there was the question about whether there was going to be an Olympics this year. No one knew, it was all up in the air. So for me, I was crying in March. I’d just come back to Wales off the back of becoming world champion, and I was training for the qualifiers. I was probably in the best shape of my whole career. For it to be called off was devastating.”
But Price is a survivor, a fighter. “As time moved on and moved forward, I thought I had to try and turn this negative into a positive. I moved myself back up to Sheffield to the GB set up with one of the girls. We were training twice a day, doing Zoom sessions.
“We were just trying to push ourselves along. Using wheelie bins as squat racks. It was hard not knowing any dates or training camps.
“For us in this game we need a date to motivate us, having a tournament to drive us. It gives you that motivation. But obviously no one had any answers. By the end of June, beginning of July we moved back into the gym. That was good to get back in the gym and that sporting environment. Training three times a day, it won’t take long to get our sparring back in, get our timing and distance. It was good to be back.
“We went out to Turkey for a training camp. Now I’m off to San Diego for a two-week training camp over there. So things are back up and running. I’ve got that fighting spirit back knowing the qualifiers are on next year and the Olympics will definitely be on.”
The next set of qualifiers for the Games will be announced on Monday.
“We know it will be early spring, and it’s going to be close to home. If it’s got to be behind closed doors at least we don’t have to travel. We’ve experienced it as well because we were all there in March.”
The powerful sporting genes were augmented by family support. “At the age of eight I was just mad about sport,” Price said. “They took me along to a football club and kickboxing club.
“I had to let off some energy and then began to get good at it. I went around the world kickboxing and the same for football, got 52 Welsh caps.”
Price was a centre-half. “In 2014, Colin Jones – the Welsh coach – said I could go to the Commonwealth Games and from that point on I thought it was too much doing two sports. I thought I’d give boxing a go and if it doesn’t work out I could always go back to football.”
The Olympics have inspired her for a long time. “At London 2012 I saw Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor win gold. I was on the taekwondo talent team. I was picked out of 2,000 people, and lived in Manchester at the age of 16. I was up there on my own and as a kickboxer, but in truth I was always better with my hands. If you’re not committed 100 per cent it’s hard to get by every day. I think the best thing was to come home and I went back to boxing.” Mark the name of Lauren Price for next year’s Olympic Games. A star in the making – of the golden type.