NICOLA Adams has had to wait a long time to make her bow at Rio 2016 and she certainly showed some ring rust before eventually seeing off Ukraine’s Tetyana Kob on Tuesday morning.
But with that first victory now under her belt, and at the very least a bronze medal secured, the reigning Olympic champion insists the best is yet to come.
It has taken until day 11 of the Rio Olympic Games for the Leeds flyweight – who was given a bye in the first round – to get her campaign underway, and she was roughed up by Kob on the inside in the early stages of the first round.
The judges surprisingly gave Adams the round after a late rally and from then on the 33-year-old composed herself and ended up the unanimous winner.
Her jab proved the key and Adams could not hide her relief at guaranteeing herself a medal.
“I rate that performance quite highly, she was a tough opponent and it has put me into the medals,” she said.
“She kept coming forward, was really aggressive and quite strong I just had to get through it, it was one of those working fights.
“I was a little bit off with the ring rust but I have got that first fight out of the way and I will progress now for my next fight in the semis.
“I have been here quite a while and I have been quite anxious so it is nice to get that fight out of the way.
“It’s nice for the viewers to get to see medal fights through the middle instead of waiting until the end so in that sense it’s fine but the waiting has been hard.”
Kob’s sustained pressure on the inside appeared to trouble Adams but the Leeds boxer insisted she had not underestimated her opponent.
“We knew what she was going to be like, to come forward and be aggressive so I was ready for her,” Adams added.
“I felt a little bit rusty, but now that is over I can push on.”
Next up in Thursday’s semi-finals for Adams is a fight against China’s Cancan Ren – who she beat in the final at London 2012.
Adams is looking to become Team GB’s first back-to-back Olympic gold medallist in 92 years.
But watching the likes of Andy Murray and Mo Farah storm to gold has given her some inspiration to take through to the medal bouts.
“I have been relaxing, playing on my Playstation and generally enjoying village life,” she added.
“For Mo Farah to fall over and still get up and win shows true grit, determination and character, that’s what it takes to be a champion.
“It has definitely inspired me, even when you are down you have to get back up and win those medals.”
A bronze medal is secured but Adams is already the world, European and Commonwealth champion so anything but gold is not going to suffice.
And the added pressure of being a defending champion has been a boost rather than a boon – according to Adams.
“For me it’s been a little bit easier because I know that everyone is looking at me as the one to beat so it gives me the extra motivation to train harder,” she added.
“It means everything to me, I came here for a medal but you know me, I always want the gold and that is what I am aiming for.”
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