July 25, 2012 / 5:41 PM / 5 years ago

Female fighting focus pleases Brit medal hopeful

LONDON (Reuters) - Part-time actress, part-time tiler, full-time women's boxing trailblazer, British flyweight world champion Nicola Adams has a lot on her plate.

The diminutive Leeds local is currently basking in the spotlight as one of 36 female boxers taking part at the Olympics for the first time.

Finally knocking down the last male-only Olympic sport, all eyes will be on the 29-year-old Adams and the 35 other women taking part, intrigued to see how popular the bouts will be.

"It is nice to get recognition for what we are doing, we have been boxing a long time and it is really nice to get that recognition and support now," Adams told reporters at Olympic Park on Wednesday.

"It is doing wonders for the sport.

"Once amateur boxing got announced as an Olympic sport, in England participation doubled so after the Olympics I am hoping it trebles and just goes through the roof."

With only three categories -- flyweight, lightweight and middleweight -- for the women in London, qualifying was tough.

Adams went to China in May and battled through the flyweight category, facing world and European champions who had either slimmed down or bulked up to try to qualify for one of the Olympic flyweight places.

She claimed silver after losing to China's Cancan Ren, the Olympic favourite, in the final.

Never one to drink from a glass half-empty, the cheerful Adams wants future Games to include more weight categories so her fellow fighters have a chance to live 'the Olympic dream'.

"It would be nice to see more weights for the next Olympics for the people who could have made my weight, or the other weights, to get the chance to compete in the next Olympics, that would be great.

"(In qualifying) I had the five-times world champion Mary Kom, the Russian two-times world champion and European champion (Elena Savelyeva), Cancan Ren -- world champion, everybody is a champion."

Given the number of talented fighters who failed to squeeze into the few qualifying places, Adams believes the sport can only grow and with a global audience tuning into the London Games a viable women's professional product could flourish.

"Women's boxing has come from strength-to-strength over the years, we have done really good and to think that it is in the Olympics shows just how far it has come," Adams said.

However, she wants no part of the professional game and is already thinking of an appearance at the Rio Games in 2016.

"I'd probably stay amateur. I'm enjoying travelling around the world and boxing for my country and it is something I have always wanted to do is go to the Olympics and maybe another one that would be great for me," she added.

"It would be nice for other female boxers to have that opportunity to go out there and be a pro like Muhammad Ali was - or his daughter."

Three-times a World Championships runner-up and the current European champion, hopes are high Adams can claim gold in London but if she fails she has a number of skills to fall back on.

The fighter has appeared as an extra in the popular British television soap opera Coronation Street and claims to be a competent tiler having tried her hand at a variety of jobs.

"I have had quite a few jobs, I think the ones I have enjoyed the most is Coronation Street and Emerdale. It is quite exciting and it is not like an ordinary job so it is quite fun to do really."

Editing by Peter Rutherford

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