WELSH middleweight Lauren Price defeated China’s Qian Li to win the Olympic gold medal at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on Sunday (August 8).

Price was calm and in control from the beginning. Li was taller but Price patient and faster. Lauren led off with fast one-twos, to hit Li cleanly. She forced Li to come forward and Price coolly countered her. She never let Qian into the bout. Even when the Chinese middleweight rushed forward, Price just helped herself to counter-punches before moving off. Excellent boxing in the last round brought Price a unanimous decision. She now adds Olympic gold to the World championship and European gold medals she’s already won. Price has essentially completed amateur boxing.

“I still can’t believe it, I’ve got to pinch myself but it just goes to show, if you dream and work hard enough, you can achieve anything,” Price said. “I’m over the moon, a huge thank you to everyone who supported me on this journey, from starting off at eight years of age, to everyone back at home who has shown me so much support. It means the world and it’s got me through.

“A big shout out to my nan, I can’t wait to see her. My granddad passed away last year. This is for him, and my nan, I know he was looking down on me today and all week, I can’t put into words what they’ve done for me over the years.

“I love them both so much, I can’t wait to see my nan, and everyone, to show this medal off.”

Ireland’s Kellie Harrington won Olympic lightweight gold. It will always be a hard bout with Brazil’s strong Beatriz Ferreira, who advanced with heavy shots, swinging hooks to edge their first round. But Harrington adjusted, switched stances easily and timing her punches to intercept the Brazilian as she attacked. Harrington won a unanimous decision and a place in Irish boxing history.

“I have no words. The hard work, dedication, sacrifice that has gone into this. The lonely moments, the tears, you know it’s just like… my family knows, my coaches know, the coaches here know, it hasn’t even hit yet,” Harrington said. “I’m crying as I have a sense of relief. When I get back and I’m in my room on my own, or when I get to the team, it will hit, but I don’t know, I’m just relieved.

“I’m an Olympic champion but it doesn’t define me as a person. At home, I’d say it will be a bit mental, but I will be going back to work [as a part-time cleaner at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin] in two or three weeks. I’ll be back at work, back doing my normal thing, that’s what keeps me grounded.

“I’ll get home, have a break, eat loads of pizza. I’m sure there will be a little party in work for me and I’ll be bringing my medal there.”

The men’s lightweight division was a contest at the highest level. Both Cuba’s Andy Cruz and America’s Keyshawn Davis are superbly skilled. Cruz, relaxed and moving well, circled round the outside of the ring. Davis was wary of committing himself and with quick shots Cruz pocked the first round. Davis responded, he seized the second round landing heavy right crosses. But Cruz raised his level again in the last round, upping his workrate, catching Davis with his flurries and he won a split decision to take the 63kgs Olympic gold medal.

“Everything was worth it, man. Even though it’s a silver medal, I still learned a lot about myself in this tournament, leading up to the silver medal. I think I’m a better fighter now,” Davis said. “Like I said, I’ve never felt this much pressure in fights a day in my life – back to back fights, tough fights at that – and I’m glad I got to experience this because it did make me a better fighter.

“I’m proud because I put my professional career on hold, put my money on hold to accomplish my dream. And I did that. A lot of people wouldn’t take that risk, wouldn’t take that opportunity to put what they have on hold when everything was going their way, they was getting everything they wanted, risking their career, putting their bodies on the line to do something extraordinary, and I did that.”

Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov became the Olympic super-heavyweight gold medallist. But America’s Richard Torrez started brightly, shaking Jalolov with a southpaw left over the top to edge the first round. But it unraveled for him in the second round. The referee deducted a point for head positioning, whether fairly or not that soon became academic as Jalolov staggered him with heavy shots to hand the American a count. The Uzbek took over the rest of the bout, landing hurtful punches. Bravely Torrez fought through to the end but Jalolov won a unanimous decision.