ONE of the highlights of my career was just qualifying for the Olympic Games. You go there with the best of intentions but I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to qualify.
When we got to the World championships they said you’ve got to qualify in your continent, for us Europe. I knew that I was in the top eight in the world, I knew that. I wasn’t quite sure if I could make the top three in Europe. Obviously there was Katie Taylor, Sofia Ochigava, then there were a couple of people where I didn’t know I could definitely beat. But I backed myself and I did it.
There’s going to be two qualifiers for the women’s team this time but then in 2012 if you didn’t do it there, at the Worlds, you weren’t going to qualify. That was the most difficult thing, because of the pressure you were under. Not that everyone else is putting you under pressure but because you want to qualify. It had been a dream from being a kid. I think I watched the ‘88 Games in Seoul with my mum and I thought, ‘I’m going to be there.’ I thought I want to be there, I want to be in the Olympics and to actually get there, 24 years later and come back, my mum was crying, saying, ‘I remember you saying that. I remember you saying that.’
The 2012 Worlds were a brilliant tournament for everyone. Savannah Marshall got gold, Nicola Adams got silver, I got bronze, Lisa Whiteside as well. She’d just gone at 57kgs at the time but she got a bronze as well. Everyone that went that got a medal.
There’s a lot of changes in the 2016 GB team, there’s a lot of new faces on the squad. For the lads I think it’s going to be harder to qualify for the Olympics but I suppose once the people from other countries have qualified, they don’t go to the next tournament. I know people say there’s no such thing as luck, but you need a bit of luck. The draw is a key thing in any tournament. The draw can make or break you. For the lads it’s a bit more difficult. But as I say in the tournaments coming along the people who have already qualified won’t be there. Getting towards the last tournament you’re still in last chance saloon because everyone wants to qualify. But you’ve got a better chance in the later ones. For the girls you’ve got two chances, an extra one on what we had last time. Europe, in the 60 kilo category in particular has got to be the hardest for the women, probably for the men as well. To get out of your category in Europe is really difficult. You’re looking at possibly needing a good draw for the Worlds.
Pat McCormack in the Europeans really stood out for me, he proper shone. But there are so many that I think are brilliant, it’s just some are in harder weight divisions.