Lisa's Rio dream still burns bright

Preston boxing star Lisa Whiteside is stepping up her preparations for what could be a huge few months in her life.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 26th January 2016, 7:00 am
Lisa Whiteside is still hopeful of being on the plane to Rio de Janeiro
Lisa Whiteside is still hopeful of being on the plane to Rio de Janeiro

The 30-year-old flyweight is targeting success at both the World and European Championships this year.

And success at those two major competitions could still yet pave the way for selection for this summer’s Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, as part of the Team GB squad.

More than anything else, Whiteside is just thankful to be back pulling on her boxing gloves once again after suffering an horrific head injury last year.

In an accident totally unrelated to her sport, the JR Gym fighter suffered a fractured skull and her career as a boxer looked under threat.

Happily, barring a little deafness in her left ear, she is now back to full health – astonishing medics in the process at the rate of her recovery.

She has already proved at the end of last year that she has not lost any of her ring craft by reaching the final of an Olympic test event in Brazil.

Now after taking a welcome break from the sport over the Christmas period, which included a short holiday in Tenerife with husband John, Whiteside is now fully focused on achieving her goals this year.

At this stage, the former Larches and Savick ABC fighter’s chances of travelling to Brazil look slim.

With only three weight categories open to women at this year’s Games, Whiteside is competing with reigning Olympic champion Nicola Adams for GB’s single place in the 51kg division.

It appears the only way Whiteside will win selection is if Adams suffers an injury or a radical loss of form. Whatever happens, Whiteside is intent on producing her best over the coming months and knows more than anyone, especially after last year, that anything can happen in life.

“I have got it hard with Nicola being there – I have got her in my weight category,” Whiteside said.

“She’s the reigning Olympic champion, but all I can do is concentrate on what I do.

“What will be, will be. I just want to keep pushing myself.

“My fitness is getting better and I just want to enjoy the moment this year and see what happens. Anything can happen in the next couple of months.”

What is certain this season is that Whiteside will represent her country in the World Championships in Kazakhstan in May.

That event will act as the first qualifying event for the Olympics, although the Preston fighter is expected to compete at the non-Olympic weight category of 54kg, with Adams at 51kg.

To ensure her participation in Brazil, Adams would have to achieve at least a semi-final spot. If she was to suffer a shock early exit, then the door may be open for Whiteside to book her spot on the plane to Brazil at the European Championships, which are scheduled to take place in Turkey, in June.

There she would have to be crowned champion or reach the final to guarantee Olympic selection.

“The first qualifier is the Worlds and I’ll just have to wait and see how the coaches at GB play it,” Whiteside said.

“Nicola will probably go at 51kg and that will mean I will go in at 54kg. No matter what, I will be going to Kazakhstan. I got a silver medal at 51kg at the World Championships in 2014, so I will be doing everything in my power to get a gold this time.”

After spending the first few weeks of the year training at the Institute of Sport, in Sheffield, Whiteside has headed out to Colorado Springs, in the US, this week for a 10-day training camp with her fellow GB boxers.

She is planning on doing some altitude training as well taking part in some gym bouts against athletes from other countries, which should provide perfect preparation for the competitions to come this year.