Nicola Adams is the first female boxer to win an Olympic gold medal and has received an MBE for her services to boxing, making her Great Britain's most decorated boxer.
But there’s far more to her than meets the eye. We were lucky enough to sit down with Nicola for the July issue of Marie Claire and she opened up about her upbringing, ruthless ambition and sexuality. We hope you’ll be as inspired by her as we are.
1. ‘I was 13 when I decided I was going to win an Olympic gold medal.’
2. ‘I grew up in a small house on the notorious Ebor Gardens estate. It was a modest home; but my mum was house proud and always made sure it was neat and tidy, with fresh flowers everywhere. It was a rough neighbourhood though. You would see the joyriders shooting past and there was a lot of theft.’
3. ‘For me, it’s always been about not geting hit. Even throughout London 2012, I never had a mark on me. I see it as a game of chess, where you are constantly drawing on your skills and tactics.’
4. ‘[One] label that has been attached to me is “bisexual”, although I would rather be just a person and not be categorised.’
5. ‘I have never tried to hide my sexuality, but I have never spoken about it before in the press, either, because I didn’t want it to overshadow everything else. It is an important aspect of who I am, but it doesn’t define me.’
6. ‘I worried about how everyone would react, so I used to say I was single, rather than say I was with a girl. I felt like I was lying all the time. I didn’t like living like that so, in the end, I thought, ‘Well, this is who I am. It’s not as if I can stop it.’
7. ‘Once it was out there, I felt I could truly be myself. It was incredibly liberating.’
8. ‘The most important thing is to be honest about yourself. Secrets weigh heavy and it’s when you try to keep everything to yourself that it becomes a burden. You waste energy agonising when you could be living your life and realising your dreams.’
9. ‘I went into the Games thinking I wanted to win a gold medal. I didn’t think about the fact that I’d be making history if I did. I certainly didn’t imagine I would inspire so many people to take up the sport: apparently there has been a 79 per cent increase in women taking up boxing.’
10. ‘I have grown into the role now, and I think it has actually made me step up my game and want to be a better person.’
11. ‘I want to win a gold in Rio. I want to be the first person – male or female – to win two gold medals at the Olympic Games, and become the greatest amateur boxer in British history. And nothing is going to stand in my way.’
Read our full exclusive interview with Nicola Adams in the June issue of Marie Claire, on newsstands now.