Craig Salmon talks to Preston boxer Lisa Whiteside who is competing at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in Australia next month
Dressed proudly head to toe in her Team England kit, Lisa Whiteside cannot help but smile when she ponders what may lie in store.
The 33-year-old Preston boxing ace is just days away from realising a lifetime ambition.
When the 2018 Commonwealth Games gets underway on the Gold Coast in Australia next month, Whiteside will finally be afforded the opportunity to showcase her ability at a major sporting event.
A former World Championship silver medal winner and ex-European champion, the JR Gym ace has never competed at a multi-sport event before.
It will certainly be an emotional moment for Whiteside when she lands Down Under next week – especially as there have been many times in the past when she thought this moment would never happen.
In the shadow of double Olympic champion Nicola Adams for much of her career, Whiteside then looked set to quit the sport in 2015 when she suffered an horrific head injury.
In a freak accident totally unrelated to boxing, Whiteside fractured her skull. Remarkably, the former Larches and Savick ABC star confounded medical opinion to not only make a full recovery – but return to the ring.
And she heads to Australia as one of the favourites to win gold.
“There were times when I thought that this would never happen,” Whiteside said. “Especially after my head injury. I remember when I went to see the specialist for a check up just prior to when I went back boxing, he was very shocked that I had made a full recovery.
“He was dead chuffed for me that I had made it back boxing.
“He put it down to being strong willed and strong minded and having the support of all my friends and family.
“I still have a few issues with my balance and I am pretty deaf in one ear, but that’s maybe a good thing sometimes.
“I just want to hopefully inspire people that anything is possible even if you do have knocks along the way.
“Things that happen in your life, you can still push on and achieve what you want to achieve.
“I am a 100% now and I can’t wait to show that at the Commonwealth Games.”
Having been an elite level athlete for such a long time, Whiteside is looking forward to taking advantage of the exposure that comes with competing at major sporting event.
“I am really excited,” said Whiteside, who is trained by Mick Day. “It’s something which I have been wanting to do for a very long time.
“I have had to obviously bide my time, work hard and now obviously it is my time .
“I have achieved in my career. I have become a world silver medallist so I have achieved throughout the years.
“I think I have won six major medals, but it’s my time to shine in the public eye and a chance to get my name out there because of what I have already achieved and hopefully what I am going to achieve.
“The World Championships and European Championships, they are our major tournaments, but you don’t get the publicity.
“The coverage is not on TV and so with a Commonwealth Games, people will be able to see me on TV and I can show them what I’m all about.”
Whiteside can also gain inspiration from the achievements of fellow Prestonian Scott Fitzgerald, who won gold in Glasgow four years ago.
The pair used to train together at Larches and she would love to emulate her former stablemate, who has now turned professional.
“Scott did amazing in Glasgow and it was so lovely to see,” she said. “It was great for Preston and I want to follow in his footsteps.”
Despite her intention to win gold, Whiteside is eager to enjoy the whole experience of being an athlete at the Commonwealths.
“I can’t wait to be part of the opening ceremony,” she said. “Being in and living in the village and seeing all the other athletes is going to be fantastic.
“The main goal though is to stay focused purely on our boxing.
“The tournament runs from the beginning of the games right through to the end, so we have to stay focused for the nine days.
“We go out to the Gold Coast next week which will help us acclimatise and get over the jet lag.”
And as for when the competition gets under way, the Chorley-born fighter is concentrating solely on herself.
“You have got some good countries competing – Canada, Ireland, India,” she said. “They always bring good teams – you can’t underestimate anybody.
“The main thing for me is going out there and concentrating on what I do best.
“Let everybody else worry about me. That’s what is nice about going out there as one of the favourites.
“It’s not pressure – I think if anything, it’s a good confidence booster and I can actually go out there knowing that others will be worrying about me.
“And so they should because I am going to be the fittest that I have ever been .
“I want to go and get gold.
“That’s the absolute dream.”
To fund her boxing career, Lisa Whiteside will be auctioning a scooter kindly donated by Scomadi Scooters, who are one of her major sponsors. If you want to be in with a chance of bidding for the scooter then keep an eye on her official Twitter page @LisaWhiteside. The Preston boxer would like to thank Scomadi for all of their help during her career. “They have been a continued sponsor of mine throughout my career, so I would like to thank them for everything.” Whiteside was also keen to thank her other supporters and backers. They are Slickers Recycling; Emma Chan Medical Aesthetics; Realign Physio; Boxfit; Suzi Wong Creations and Robin Oatridge and Co accountants.