Lauren Price became Wales' first Olympic boxing champion in Tokyo
Surrounded by gloves, pads and headguards in what is essentially a kit store at Pontypool Boxing Gym, Lauren Price is a little weary; not from any physical exertion, but the effort that comes with answering questions about herself all day.
The Olympic gold medalist has been conducting interviews for much of the afternoon and has yet more people to speak to after Telegraph Sport. Such is life since returning from Tokyo as Wales’s first Olympic boxing champion. “I suppose you’ve got to enjoy the ride while it lasts,” she says.
Price, 27, is one of those exceptional sporting talents that seems to succeed in everything she attempts. When she was eight-years-old and asked to write down three life goals for a school project, she said she wanted to become a kickboxing world champion, play international football for Wales and go to the Olympic Games.
By the time she set off for Japan this summer, she had represented her country 52 times at football across all age groups, including twice for the senior side, and won four kickboxing world titles. That she returned with a middleweight gold medal exceeded even the ambitious eight-year-old’s dreams.
The most recent accolade has changed her life for good. In addition to the media attention, she has walked the red carpet at the GQ Men of the Year Awards, been a guest on Question of Sport and Soccer AM, and played a starring role in the launch of next year’s Birmingham Commonwealth Games baton relay. Hundreds of people lined the streets when she returned from Japan to the family home in south Wales.
In a year that saw Team GB win 22 gold medals, the public also voted her Olympian of the Year at the inaugural National Lottery Awards.
“I was pretty shocked, to be honest, because I was up against people like Adam Peaty,” she says. “Even in Tokyo I was with people like him and Andy Murray thinking: ‘Oh my God’. You’ve seen them on telly for years.
“Now I’m going to the GQ Awards and being around Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and people like that, which was pretty insane. It is crazy.
“I’ll always be me, I’ll never change. I’m just Lauren Price, a girl from the Valleys.”
Lauren Price has tried out commentary since returning from Tokyo
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
It explains why, amid the celebrity glamour, she longed to return to training a fortnight ago and is happiest surrounded by the old boxing kit that lines the shelves behind her as we speak. “It’s just that sweaty, boxing smell which I’m used to,” she says.
Having initially planned to go on holiday after the Olympics, she ended up travelling around Britain for various events, as well as doing up a house in Sheffield with her partner, fellow boxer Karriss Artingstall, who won featherweight bronze in Japan.
Thrust into the limelight as one of British sport’s highest-profile gay couples, Price says there have been offers to become an ambassador for various LGBTQ causes, but she is yet to take up any of them. Primarily, it is simply because she has been too busy, but she remains uncertain about whether it is what she desires even when some semblance of normal life returns.
“We bought a house before the Olympics but I didn’t want a big thing made out of [the relationship]. For me, it’s just normal,” she said.
“Organisations have been in touch, but we’ve had so much going on that we haven’t sorted that side of things out yet. At the minute I just want to focus on my career and what I’m going to do next.
“Obviously I’ll support it, but I don’t want it to be blown up because we’ve been together for a couple of years and it’s just normal.”
The question of her future plan is one that has followed her ever since winning gold in Tokyo. With an Olympic title to add to world, European and Commonwealth gold medals, she has won everything available in the amateur ranks, and has been approached by Eddie Hearn, among others, to turn professional. Even if she does, she would still be allowed to compete at the Paris 2024 Games.
“I haven’t decided yet,” she says. “I’ve had a lot of offers to go pro, and the option is there to go pro and still do Paris as well, so I couldn’t be in a better position.
“I trust in Rob McCracken, our [GB Boxing] performance director. He’s great, so I’ll sit down with him. I trust my career in his hands.
“I have ticked every box in amateur boxing. They say to finish on a high, but we’ll see what doors open.”
As for her long-term aims, she says she would like to replicate Ireland’s Katie Taylor, who dominated the amateur scene and remains unbeaten in the professional ranks.
“Win all the belts, have a comfortable future – obviously she’s made for life, money-wise – and just live a happy life,” says Price.
For anyone else, such lofty ambitions would be laughable. But as someone who is yet to fail at anything, Price might just be capable.
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