Preston police officer Lisa Whiteside won a bronze medal at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in China two years ago then went straight back to work.
While success for team-mates Nicola Adams and Savannah Marshall meant automatic qualification for London 2012, Whiteside’s success came in the non-Olympic 57kg category and meant she would be sidelined for the big occasion.
But with Olympic and Commonwealth champion Adams ruled out of next month’s World Championships in South Korea following shoulder surgery, Whiteside is determined to seize her rare chance in the 51kg division.
It is an audacious move by Whiteside who says she has found it easy to shed six kilograms and believes a repeat of her medal success in 2012 can act as a timely reminder that the flyweight berth for Rio 2016 is still up for grabs.
Whiteside said: “This is a massive opportunity to prove myself at 51kg and to prove to people that I am not just here because Nicola is out injured.
“I’m always going to be second fiddle to Nicola at this stage but I’ve got to prove myself to the point where they say there needs to be a box-off to decide which of us goes to Rio.
“Nicola is Olympic champion and you can never take that away from her.
“She performed amazingly but I am right there behind her and I honestly believe if I can get the chance I can beat Nicola and take that spot.”
It is a mark of the faith the Great Britain coaches place in Whiteside that she has been able to finish her day job and take up a full-time position alongside Adams on the GB programme.
A European silver medallist in her major tournament debut in 2011, Whiteside proved herself once again when she won gold at the European Union Championships in Hungary last year.
But due to the small number of weight categories for women at multi-sport games – just three each at both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games – Whiteside was once again left frustrated this summer as she sat out the successful introduction of women’s boxing in Glasgow.
“It was great to watch but so frustrating because I sat there and saw so many girls who I’ve already beaten, but they were boxing at the Commonwealths and I was sitting at home,” added Whiteside.
“It just gives me the extra fire to succeed. I am fitter and stronger and faster and technically a lot better than I was two years ago.
“It’s going to stand me in good stead for what I hope will be two very exciting years.”