Proud Prestonian Lisa Whiteside firmly believes she can be the city’s next Commonwealth Games champion.
The 32-year-old GB boxing ace is primed for her first ever appearance at a multi-sport event when she heads to Australia’s Gold Coast in April.
In the shadow of the legendary Nicola Adams for so much of her career, it is now Whiteside’s turn to take centre stage following the two-time Olympic champion’s defection to the professional ranks.
The flyweight believes it will be an ‘unbelievable achievement’ if she can follow in the footsteps of her friend and former stablemate Scott Fitzgerald, who won Commonwealth gold, in Glasgow, in 2014.
The pair used to train together at Larches and Savick Amateur Boxing Club, in Catforth Road, and although they have taken different paths in recent years with Whiteside switching to JR Gym and Fitzgerald working under Michael Jennings in Chorley, the pair still keep in touch.
“I want to bring a Commonwealth Games gold medal home,” said Whiteside.
“It will be an unbelievable achievement if I can follow in the footsteps of Scott. I am still in touch with him. I went to watch him in his last fight in Liverpool against Bradley Pryce last month.
“He’s doing great as a pro and I still like to stay in contact with him.
“It will be amazing if I can do what Scott did in Glasgow.”
While Fitzgerald had visions of competing at the Rio Olympics following his Commonwealth Games success, he eventually turned his back on that opportunity and decided to turn professional.
Whiteside still has major ambitions of appearing at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. But she admits the thought of turning professional has crossed her mind, especially since witnessing the recent successes of ex-GB team-mates Adams, Natasha Jonas and Chantelle Cameron, who have all turned over.
“I have had people interested in me becoming professional,” said Whiteside, who won silver at the World Championships in 2014.
“But I just think this is my time. My focus is going to this Commonwealth Games – it will be my first experience of a multi-sport competition.
“Long-term I want to go to Tokyo in 2020, but I am just going to see how everything goes.”
Whiteside is in action next month when she faces China’s Shiqi Xu in an international clash in Sheffield.