Savannah Marshall Has Vowed To Grab Olympic Gold
Savannah Marshall has vowed to follow up her historic women's world boxing title win by claiming Olympic gold - and inspiring the rest of the 10-strong Great Britain team to believe they can do the same.
Marshall became Britain's first women's world champion when she beat Elena Vystropova 17-15 in the middleweight final in Qinhuangdao, China on Saturday, on what was also the Hartlepool fighter's 21st birthday.
Marshall flew back to big celebrations in her home town and said: "The response has been amazing. I can't believe it's all for me. Seeing how much it means to everyone makes me even more determined to win Olympic gold.
"I am going to the Olympics as world champion but I won't feel any extra pressure. I just go out there to box my best and it makes no difference what people are saying about me."
Among those offering his congratulations was men's middleweight and fellow Olympic qualifier Anthony Ogogo, with whom Marshall has sparred many rounds at their training base at the English Institute of Sport.
Ogogo said: "Before I sparred with Savannah I'd never sparred with a girl before so of course you think about taking it easy and not punching too hard - but I soon realised Savannah could give as good as she got.
"I think we have both benefited enormously from our sparring sessions. Savannah winning the world title will give the whole British team a lift, and help us all find that extra five per cent that might make the difference."
Great Britain performance director Rob McCracken said Marshall's sparring sessions with both Ogogo and British light-heavyweight Callum Smith had helped play a major part in her rise to the world title.
"Savannah has benefited from sparring Anthony and Callum," said McCracken. "We have really stepped it up in recent months and her stamina and footwork have improved enormously."
Marshall arrived home from China on Sunday night to a party at Hartlepool's Headland Gym, where she first started boxing at the age of 12 despite the reservations of her coach Tim Coulter.
Coulter said: "Savannah deserves everything she gets for all the hard work and dedication she has put in over the years. She certainly proved me wrong and now I see no reason why she shouldn't go on and win Olympic gold."
Despite the plaudits there seems little danger of Marshall getting carried away by her success. Notoriously reticent in interviews, she admits she is still struggling to come to terms with the magnitude of her achievement.
Marshall added: "When I started boxing I dreamed about things like this but I never really thought it would happen. Women's boxing wasn't even in the Olympic Games. I just boxed because I loved doing it."
Marshall is one of the maximum quota of three Great British women to qualify for the Olympics. Nicola Adams will fight at flyweight after winning a silver medal in Qinhuangdao, while bronze medallist Natasha Jonas competes at lightweight.
The trio - plus the seven male qualifiers - Andrew Selby, Luke Campbell, Josh Taylor, Thomas Stalker, Fred Evans, Ogogo and Anthony Joshua - will be officially unveiled at a British Olympic Association press conference next month.