Liverpool Lightweight Natasha Jonas Follows Her Dream
Liverpool lightweight Natasha Jonas is determined to follow in the footsteps of her childhood sporting heroes as she prepares to lace on the gloves for women's boxing's historic Olympic bow.
Jonas was part of the 10-strong British boxing team kitted out at Loughborough University today and admitted she could hardly believe that her lifetime ambition was about to be realised.
"I remember watching Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell when I was about six years old," Jonas said. "I didn't know how I was going to get there, but I made up my mind I was going to the Olympics too.
"Now I've made it and the dream I had when I was a little kid has come true. It's going to be massive and the thought of having 10,000 people cheering me on gives me goose-bumps. I am going to enjoy every minute.
"Getting the kit on makes it all real. It's the little things - people are starting to recognise me, I've got the kit and I got the official letter so every day it all adds up and it is beginning to sink in."
Jonas has every right to relish the Olympic experience more than most, having taken up boxing when inclusion for women was still a long way off, and fighting her way up without funding or recognition.
Having had to see off her world-class domestic lightweight rival Amanda Coulson just to make it to the qualifying process, Jonas then bagged a bronze medal at last month's World Championships in China to confirm her place.
Jonas will be part of a history-making three-strong women's team, alongside newly-crowned world champion Savannah Marshall and world silver medallist Nicola Adams, plus a seven-strong men's team.
"It feels unreal that I'm going to the Olympics," Jonas added. "It's been a long process of ups and downs. I had setbacks but I worked hard to get my faults right and I went to the worlds and did what I had to do.
"Now I am going to go to the Olympics with the pressure off, do what I do and get an Olympic medal. I'm going to enjoy myself as well. It's a big occasion and have to pioneer for women's boxing as well."