Claressa Shields is the only US boxer to win gold at this year’s Olympic Games, a historic feat for a 17-year-old girl from Flint, Michigan. Women’s boxing, which was banned in Britain until 1996, had its first competition at the Olympics this year, and the 17-year-old middleweight beat Russian opponent Nadezda Torlopova 19-12 on Thursday to win gold.
The Denver Post reports that Shields found solace in a boxing gym during a difficult childhood. She stated of the accomplishment that:
“This was something I wanted for a long time, even when boxing wasn’t going all right, even when my life wasn’t going all right. All I wanted was a gold medal, and I kept working towards it, even when people were saying I couldn’t do it. I’m too young. I couldn’t do it. There were girls who were going to beat me because of better experience, more experience. I proved them all wrong.”
And Claressa Shields won in style, while also winning over a crowd that was mostly there to see Irish lightweight Katie Taylor and British flyweight Nicola Adams, who also won gold in their weight categories. The 33-year-old Torlopova had nothing but good things to say of her opponent after the young American defeated her, saying:
“She’s young, after all, and she’s quicker. It happens that speed overcame experience. Something was lacking, most probably speed. After the second round, when they announced I was two points down, I knew that was it. … You have to know how to lose. She’s a worthy opponent. Good job.”
Young Claressa Shields laughed throughout the medals ceremony, grabbing at the shiny gold medal around her neck to make sure it was really still there, reports The Washington Post. The 17-year-old has said that her new prize is something she will wear every day, because of how much it means to her. She stated:
“I earned this. This is my medal. I worked too hard. I worked really hard for this medal. I can’t even explain all the pain that I had went through, all the people I had to do deal with. And just life, period.”
Did you get to see Claressa Shields win gold in the debut of women’s boxing at the London Olympics?