Lauren Price beats Li Qian in middleweight final to win Olympic gold

"Speaking to my nan before I came out here, I said I was going to get that gold and bring it back to her."

Lauren Price dedicated winning gold in the women's middleweight final to her grandparents.

The Welsh star overcame a nervous start to realise a childhood dream of becoming Olympic champion.

Price was inspired by watching Dame Kelly Holmes storm to victory in both the women's 800 metres and 1500m at Athens 2004 and the 27-year-old from Wales now has her own gold following a unanimous decision win over Li Qian.

After receiving the medal, she looked skywards in remembrance of her grandfather Derek, who alongside Linda took Price in and raised her from the age of three, the pair helping their grandchild realise her sporting ambitions.

She has more than 50 caps for Wales' football team and is a former world kickboxing champion, but she decided ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games that boxing was where her heart lay, and she celebrated a career-high on Sunday.

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"It's just a dream come true," she said. "It's been a dream of mine since I watched Kelly Holmes win that gold. I didn't know how I was going to get it and what sport I was going to do it in.

"I can't really put into words what it means to me. I'm just over the moon. When the decision came, I looked up to (Derek), he was a massive part of my life and if it wasn't for him and my nan I wouldn't have achieved anything.

"They've always supported me 100 per cent and I always said I'd win an Olympic medal and speaking to my nan before I came out here, I said I was going to get that gold and bring it back to her.

"I can't thank them enough, they've always encouraged me and spent thousands of pounds on me over the years to send me away to tournaments. This is for them. I can't wait to get back now, see her and share this medal with her."

Price has been in regular contact with her grandmother throughout the Olympics and revealed she was given a special message on the eve of her bout against Li.

"I spoke to her on FaceTime (on Saturday) night and then when I woke up in the morning, I had another message," said Price, the first Welsh boxer to win Olympic gold.

"She always says to me, reach for the moon, if I fall short I land on the stars. That's always in the message, and it was just how far I've come, the journey I've been on and how proud she is of me. It was inspirational."

Lauren Price
Lauren Price

Price had been stretched to her limit in Friday's semi-final against Nouchka Fontijn, edging out her Dutch rival on a wafer-thin split decision. She prevailed on just one of the five judges' scorecards, but two scored the fight a draw and subsequently picked Price as their preferred winner.

There was no such drama on the final day of the Games as she used superb lateral movement to confound Li, the 2018 world champion, getting in and out of range at will and controlling the tempo throughout.

Four scores of 30-27 and one of 29-28 went in Price's favour at the Kokugikan Arena as the 2019 world champion claimed Great Britain's 22nd and final gold of Tokyo 2020, cementing fourth spot in the medal table.

"Going into this, obviously I was the favourite, being world champion and all that, but in the Olympic Games anything can happen on the day," added Price.

"I knew I was up against a very good girl, a previous world champion, but I knew that if I was on my A-game then I'd be alright.

"You know what nerves are like, especially going into the Olympic final, but I thought I was cool, calm and collected and I was really pleased with my performance as well."

As for what's next, she said: "I'm just going to go back, have some time off and relax, go on holiday. It's only three years until the Paris Olympics so I may as well tick one of them boxes and do it again."

But as for whether she will take up another sport, she added: "I'm pretty good at this one so I think I'll stick to this one.

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