Rio 2016: Britain’s Nicola Adams defends her Olympic title

Flyweight gold earns 33-year-old from Leeds a place in the history books

Britain’s Nicola Adams lands a right against France’s  Sarah Ourahmoune during the women’s flyweight fina. Adams retained her gold medal. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Britain’s Nicola Adams lands a right against France’s Sarah Ourahmoune during the women’s flyweight fina. Adams retained her gold medal. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

 

Nicola Adams cruised into the history books by becoming the first British boxer to retain an Olympic title in 92 years at Rio Centro on Saturday.

The 33-year-old from Leeds unanimously outpointed Sarah Ourahmoune of France to claim flyweight gold and emulate Harry Mallin, who won back-to-back gold medals in 1920 and 1924.

Adams, who had been sluggish at times in her two previous contests, dominated from the start and won clearly despite all three judges favouring Ourahmoune’s greater aggression in the third.

Ultimately her path to double gold proved distinctly more serene than that of Mallin, who needed nine bouts to achieve the feat, including two controversial disqualification wins.

In 1920, Mallin’s American opponent Samuel Lagonia was thrown out for persistent holding, a decision which so enraged the Americans they threatened to withdraw their entire delegation from the Games.

And four years later, Frenchman Roger Brousse was initially declared the victor in their third round contest, only for the decision to be reversed when Mallin complained he had been frequently bitten during the bout.

In contrast, Adams’s only difficulties arose in a below-par first round bout against Ukrainian veteran Tetyana Kob, and a poor start to her semi-final against her old adversary Ren Cancan.

After three consecutive world final defeats, Adams had finally come good against Cancan in emphatic fashion in the 2012 final, when she floored the Chinese en route to becoming the first Olympic women’s boxing champion.

And it was a mark of how much she continues to dominate her division four years on that despite clearly losing the first round of her 2016 semi-final to Cancan, she effortlessly stepped it up to cruise into her second consecutive final.

In Ourahmoune, she was up against an opponent whom she had comfortably beaten in their previous two meetings in Turkey in April and Murcia, Spain, last year.

Despite being one year Adams’s senior, Ourahmoune, a former two-time world medallist, admitted she looked up to the Briton as a pioneer of the sport, and possessed little to suggest Adams’s double title quest was under threat.

Unlike in her two previous bouts, Adams looked sharp and swift from the start, catching her opponent with a long right in the opening seconds, and continuing to land accurate hooks as she took the early advantage.

Barging her veteran opponent against the ropes in the second, Adams continued to assert her authority, and she continued to counter accurately against her opponent’s crude, come-forward swings.

The game Ourahmoune battled hard in the third, where despite appearing to have little success in landing cleanly, she was given the round by all three judges, putting pressure back on Adams for the last.

The Leeds boxer made no mistake in a wilder fourth, celebrating with an Ali Shuffle when the unanimous verdict was announced.

Adams admitted she had felt nervous before the contest but said she never doubted she had done enough to secure her second Olympic crown.

Adams said: “I’m always nervous before every competition. I think it’s good to have nervous energy when you get in the ring, because it gives you the adrenaline and reminds you that you’re taking it seriously.

“I felt like I’d done enough to win, definitely. I felt like I was winning the rounds quite comfortably and I was scoring the cleaner shots.

“It feels absolutely amazing. I’ve created history and I’m now the most accomplished amateur boxer we’ve had of all time, so it’s a nice title to have.”

However, Adams would not immediately be drawn on whether she would come back and seek to make it a third consecutive title in Tokyo in four years’ time.

Adams added: “I’m going to take a holiday and come back and decide what’s next. I’m going to have to sit down and relax and see what happens.”

Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez also became a double Olympic gold medal winner, adding the bantamweight title to the flyweight title he won in London.

Ramirez beat 19-year-old Shakur Stevenson, the bright prospect on Billy Walsh’s US men’s team who had reached the final after a semi-final walkover over Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin.

Nikitin had defeated Ireland’s Michael Conlan in the quarter-finals, a controversial decision that was added to when the Russian had to pull out of the semi-finals due to cuts.

The gold was Cuba’s second of the boxing tournament after Julio Cesar La Cruz secured the light-heavyweight title on Thursday.

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