YOU could forgive Paige Murney an anxious glance over her shoulder. She is currently Britain and England’s leading lightweight but rivals are massing, not least brilliant teenager Caroline Dubois, who has already won the Youth Olympic Games and Youth World championships.
“I’ve only sparred with her once or twice to be honest, obviously she’s looking to turn senior next year. All competition is good competition because we make sure that we push each other and you always know that there’s someone coming to try and take your spot. So it just makes you train even harder, make sure you keep improving all the time,” Murney said.
Dubois isn’t her only challenger in the UK. She trains alongside lightweights Shona Whitwell and Hannah Robinson on the GB squad. “I’ve not boxed any of them. I’ve only boxed at lightweight in England once. I went down from 64kgs to 60kgs. I’ve only boxed at lightweight once and that was back in November 2017. So I’ve not boxed in England for a long time. But we’re always sparring with each other up here,” Murney said. “Always a good spar. To be on GB you have to be at a good standard so you get the best sparring up here, sparring each other all the time.
‘I made history for Leicester. We hadn’t had anyone go to the Commonwealths since Chris Pyatt’
“There’s two other girls on the GB programme, there’s Youths coming up, so I’ve just got to focus on me, perform to the best of my ability and make sure I stay in the number one spot.
“Boxing in England is tough anyway. So to get that number one spot and ultimately to go on to represent England at the Europeans is an achievement in itself. But I’m looking forward to going out there and performing to the best of me.”
Murney rose from obscurity herself when she won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games last year, losing to Australia’s Anja Stridsman in the final. “I sort of made history for Leicester as well, coming back with silver,” Paige said. “We hadn’t had anyone go to the Commonwealths since Chris Pyatt.
“The reaction was incredible. Everyone just got behind me. If nobody had heard of me before that, because I was quite new to the GB set up then, doing that, going there, having four fights and getting the silver medal just made everyone aware of the potential that I do have.”
She went to her first World championships last year too. “It was a really good experience. I lost to a Korean who ended up with a bronze. So I know the girls I’ve boxed and what standard I am. It was my first Worlds, I’ve never been to a Europeans, it was all about picking up these experiences. But I know if I perform to the best that I can do then I can pick up medals,” Murney said.
She will be at the impending European championships next. “Whatever tournament you get taken to, whether it’s a little tournament or a major like this, you always have to prove yourself because things can change so quickly in boxing. Like with the Commonwealth Games I only went to one tournament before that,” the lightweight said. “You’ve just got to grab every opportunity and perform at every tournament you go to.”