With the countdown to next Sunday’s awards ceremony well underway, we at The Sportist are getting pretty excited to see who comes out with what may well be the world’s ugliest trophy firmly in hand. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a close run competition and there’s probably 10 of the 12 nominees who look to be in with a pretty strong shot at the title. Continuing our run-down of the female constituents of the shortlist, today we’re looking at a genuinely ground-breaking star.
12 months ago, Nicola Adams is a name hardly any of us would probably have known. Come August 9th, she was a household name having defeated the Chinese women’s boxing great Ren Cancan in a crushing 16-7 points victory. Her victory wasn’t just one of the crowning achievements of the whole Games but a genuine breakthrough in an Olympic Games that was characterised by its series of breakthroughs.
Many of us over the course of those Olympic and Paralympic weeks had our eyes opened to new gender equality in competitive sport and surely no single competitor better embodied the joint ideals of female sporting representation and domestic glory than the 29 year-old successor to 1940s and 50s trailblazer Barbara Buttrick. In the sport’s Olympic debut, Adams was always a good shot at a medal. A World Championship silver medallist in both 2010 and 2012 – both times, ironically, beaten in the final by Cancan – Adams was already a star in her own sport, but the inclusion of women’s boxing enabled her to become one of the breakout stars of the whole Games.
Having achieved her Olympic goal, Adams’ path may have progressed down the routes pursued by fellow prior-Olympians Audley Harrison and Amir Khan, with offers to take the professional route coming in the immediate aftermath to the Games. Having stated her commitment to the Olympic cause and her desire to travel to Rio in defence of her title, though, we can hopefully look forward to at least one more round of Adams driving towards another Gold. Perhaps it’s too soon to dream of what might be in 4 years’ time, but if anyone is going to stand up to whatever knocks might come their way before Brazil raises the Olympic flag, it will surely be Nicola Adams.
Why she’ll win
Well, she basically has the perfect Sports Personality of the Year story. Breakthrough gold medal, champion of a sport which has struggled desperately for public acceptance, one of the figureheads of the Games and at heart proud of just being herself. Adams is a star in her own sport and, now, a star outside of it too. And she’s absolutely definitely a personality too. Surely that’s what it’s all about?
Why she won’t win
While women’s boxing undoubtedly lived in a more enlightened age than ever before, it’s still a minority interest sport and there are still, undoubtedly, people who stand in opposition to it. In fact, with boxing still relatively unfashionable outside of its own vociferous, dedicated support, it might well be the arena of Adams’ success than the success itself that stands against her next weekend.