Nicola Adams punched her way into the history books this year, becoming the first woman ever to win an Olympic medal in boxing. Since the 30-year-old flyweight from Leeds floored China’s Ren Cancan to win the gold she has become an inspiring role model for young people in Britain and around the world. Rarely seen without the smile that is now emblazoned on billboards and buses around the country, Adams is modest, hardworking and friendly. Everything, in short, that you would hope from a sporting hero. Adams, who is bisexual, persevered with the sport for more than a decade when representing her country — let alone getting an Olympic medal — was not an option for girls. This year, her talent and charm have won over many of the chauvinists who queued up before the Games to say that putting a woman in the ring was 'unnatural'. 'It's amazing to be on top of a list of such inspiring and influential people,' Adams said. 'Thanks to everyone for their continued support.'