The super-smiley, gold-medal-winning Olympic boxer talks diet, training, running, archery (!?) and clubbing with mates. So it is possible to be an Olympian and still drink booze. Sign us up for Rio!
I got into boxing almost by accident. My mum used to go to aerobics and there was an after-school boxing class there. One night she couldn’t get a babysitter for me and my brother so she took us boxing… and that was it, I loved it.
Don’t worry about boxing gyms being male dominated, most are really friendly, you’ve just got to go in and give it a try. I was the only girl when I started but that didn’t put me off. I was only 12 and I just wanted to box and have fun. Since then more and more women have taken up the sport, particularly after the Olympics.
I train three times a day, Monday to Friday. I run in the morning; do weights, pull-ups, press-ups etc mid morning; and then it’s a boxing session, so sparring, bags, skipping. The boxing session is definitely my favourite.
When I run by myself I enjoy it but when I run as part of training I don’t. The coaches push you really hard. It’s tough!
When we’re training we have pre-made meals delivered to us. If you’re losing weight for a fight then they’re more protein-based, less carbs. If you’re putting on weight there are more carbs. Slimming down can be pretty annoying!
To psych myself up before a fight I listen to music – Hip hop, R&B, funky house. If I come on to a song it’s All of the Lights, Kanye West.
If you want to try boxing, go on the aba website, find a local club, go down and see if you like it. If you don’t want to to get hit, try a boxercise class.
Being injured in 2009 was really tough. [Nicola broke a bone in her back after falling down stairs.] I went from being able to do 400 sit ups a day to not being able to lift my shoulders off the floor. It was really hard getting back into training again and keeping myself motivated. I think I’d have been better if it had been a broken arm or something because at least then I’d have been able to go out and have fun. Instead I was in bed for three to four months.
Seeing my peers improving while I was injured just made me even more determined. I said, ‘I’m going to get back into it and I’m going to be even better than I was’… and I did.
Yes I’m smiley but I’m really competitive too. I like to win in anything I do, even if it’s just a game of Monopoly.
If I was to try another sport it would probably be archery. I got to do it as part of the TV show Superstars and I was actually quite good.
After the Olympics my life changed overnight. It was a bit strange for a while. Instead of clubbing with my friends at the weekend I was doing TV shows. And when I came home after the Games, all the kids in the street followed my car.
Hang on a minute, clubbing?
Yeah. We’re allowed to drink a bit. I don’t drink when I’m coming up to competition though, that could be disastrous!