Nicola Adams is in the history books as the first woman to win an Olympic boxing gold medal but the statistics tell only part of the story.
Adams has been the first lady of British boxing for just under a decade, an uncomfortable existence on the sidelines in many ways, and that all ended just before 5pm yesterday when her hand was raised at the end of the flyweight final.
She had to overcome China's Ren Cancan, a woman who had beaten her in the last two World Championship finals, but yesterday – somewhere under a din that rattled the chairs at the ExCeL – Adams fought the finest fight of her life.
Adams won the first round 4-2, increased the lead to 9-4 in the second and came close to ending the fight in the third when she sent Ren crashing down heavily on her back from a left hook. It took the crowd a second to realise what they had seen and then all 10,000 stood.
Adams went into the fourth leading 14-5 and at the bell, after a short wait, the gold medal was confirmed with the historic score of 16-7.
"It was the greatest moment of my life and I loved every second of it," Adams said. "I know her so well and she knows me so well but I just refused to get beat in that ring in front of those fans, the noisiest fans that I have ever known."
There was never a moment during the fight when it looked even remotely likely that Ren would continue her dominance of Adams, and the sickening look on her face when she was dropped suggests she will never trouble the woman from Leeds again.
It was women's boxing, which has made a stunning debut at these Games, at its best.
"I didn't want to leave anything to chance and I knew that I had to make it clear and put it beyond any doubt. I had to put on the best performance of my life and I did," said Adams, who has three silver medals from losing in the World Championship final.
Adams has spent the last five years struggling to make a living that did not interfere with her boxing ambitions and that is never easy.
She worked on building sites and as an extra on television shows – including Coronation Street – between training sessions at whatever gyms she could find near to where she was working.
"I have been making sacrifices for so long and so many people have helped me get to this medal," continued Adams, who officially fights for the Haringey Police and Community club in north London. "This win is for all the girls out there dreaming of winning an Olympic medal. It can be done, I have proved it."
Million dollar baby: Adams factfile
Born 26 October 1982, Leeds. Now trains in Tottenham, London.
1995 Started boxing aged 12, and won her first bout aged 13.
2001 Was the first woman boxer to represent England, fighting an Irish boxer.
2007 Took bantamweight silver at the European Championships in Denmark.
2008 Won silver in the World Championships in China.
2010 Returned after months out with a back injury to win silver again in World Championships.
2011 Yet another silver in the Worlds; and qualifies for London.
* She has also worked as a extra, and appeared in the soaps Coronation Street and EastEnders.Reuse content