Lauren Price strikes boxing gold to win Britain’s final medal of Tokyo Games

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As the unanimous judges’ decision was announced in her favour, exactly as she and everyone else knew it would be, Lauren Price used her first moments as an Olympic champion to point up to the sky and stare proudly above.

Price was thinking only of her grandfather. Along with her grandmother 27 years ago, Derek and Linda had taken her in at three days old after her biological parents gave her up. They provided her with the love and foundation that allowed her to thrive. Last December, having had dementia that robbed him of his vitality, he died.

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“I knew he was a massive part of my life and if it wasn’t for him and my nan I wouldn’t have achieved anything,” said Price. “They always supported me 100% and I always said to my nan I was going to bring a gold back to her.”

She has achieved a fair few things in sport. Price won 52 caps for Wales in football, she was a world champion in kickboxing and she competed in taekwondo, often all during the same period. It took a while for her to figure it out, but in boxing she has found her true home.

After arriving in Tokyo as the first Welsh female boxer to even compete in the Olympic Games, she walks away as the gold medallist in the middleweight division, a sterling achievement secured by a supreme, dominant victory against Li Qian of China.

As effortless as Price made it seem, this was far from an easy draw. One round after she narrowly survived her experienced old rival Nouchka Fontijn, Price stood against Li, who had preceded her as world champion in 2018.

From the beginning, Price used her speed and agility against her taller opponent to devastating effect, smartly choosing her moments to burst into Li’s face, land a quick combination and then vanish. She was just too quick for Li, who barely touched her throughout. All five judges awarded Price the first round and then four did so in the second round.

It was in the third stanza, when only a catastrophe could have held her from the gold medal, that Price demonstrated the full breadth of her class. Under Olympic pressure, she handled the moment with incredible poise, maintaining a distance yet still dictating the contest. As the clock ticked down, she killed it off with a flourish – two big right-handed blows with 60 and then 40 seconds to go.

“I am just over the moon, dream come true,” she said. “It has been my dream since I was eight and watching Kelly Holmes win gold. I didn’t know what sport it was going to be but the dream was to get to the Olympics and the gold is the icing on the cake. I cannot put it into words what it means.”

Great Britain’s Lauren Price (in red) looks to land a punch on China’s Qian Li. Photograph: Adam Davy/PA

Shortly after she spoke, Frazer Clarke, captain of the Team GB boxing team and a bronze medallist in the men’s super-heavyweight competition, swept into the mixed zone after his medal ceremony and attempted to do so. “If she had a Cuban kit on, people would be raving about her,” he said. “She’s just won an Olympic final and she probably took two shots. She danced around, looked fantastic. I expected nothing less from her to be honest.”

As has been the case for much of her time in Tokyo, before her fight Price woke up to a heartfelt message from her grandmother reminding her that she had dreamed for this moment since she was a little girl. It came with her usual refrain – to reach for the moon for if she falls short she might land on the stars. This time at least, she did not come close to falling. Her gold medal marked Great Britain’s 65th and final medal of the Games.

“All I was thinking about last night is I live next to a post office so now I have a gold postbox next to my house,” said Price. “Every time she opens the blinds she will see that. She always encouraged me, spent thousands of pounds to send me to tournaments, so this is for them. I will go back now and share it with her.”

Although Price is always extremely laid back, during a broadcast interview and in a few quiet moments in the mixed zone, some tears flowed. She says that she will take some time off, enjoy a holiday, and then she will look to take on the amateur boxing world all over again at Paris 2024.

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What is most certain about her future, however, is that Price has changed sports for the very last time. “I’m pretty good at this one,” she concluded, the gold medal glistening around her neck. “I think I’ll stick to this one.”

Earlier in the day, Ireland’s Kellie Anne Harrington convincingly won the gold medal in the lightweight division by unanimous decision, defeating Beatriz Ferreira of Brazil. Harrington follows in the footsteps of Katie Taylor as the third Irish boxer to win an Olympic gold medal and the second female boxer to do so.

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