Lauren Price barged through her opening bout in the women’s middleweight boxing event in Tokyo and said she had been inspired by the sight of her friend Lauren Williams on an Olympic podium.
The duo began kick-boxing at the Devils Martial Arts club in Blackwood before drifting into different combat codes, culminating in them both earning a place on the plane for the delayed Games in the Japanese capital.
Williams kept her side of the bargain by winning taekwondo silver on Monday, and Price set about emulating her former team-mate by making short work of Mongolia’s Myagmarjargal Munkhbat at the Kokugikan Arena.
“Lauren did amazing and she came so close to winning the gold,” said Price. “She sent me a good luck message last night and I congratulated her. I would love to follow in her footsteps and get to the final but for now I will enjoy the journey.”
Price, five years Williams’ senior, started at the kick-boxing club at the age of eight and was soon joined by Williams, with the pair travelling the continent together and racking up the titles including multiple world crowns.
After signing up for taekwondo’s ‘Fighting Chance’ clinic, Williams stuck it out to become a two-time European champion, while Price juggled fighting with football before opting to pursue a boxing career full-time.
“Lauren is a bit younger than me and we missed each other when we first got onto the taekwondo team but we have stayed in touch over all this time,” added Price.
“It’s a mad journey that we’ve been on and we’ve ended up here at an Olympic Games together, so we must be doing something right.”
Price dominated her opponent, landing thumping right hands in the opening two rounds which prompted two of the five judges in each to award her a two-point margin.
The Welsh fighter will take on Atheyna Bylon of Panama in the quarter-finals on Saturday with a guaranteed medal at stake.
She added: “I thought she was going to come at me a little bit more. I watched a video of her this morning and she looked quite an aggressive fighter but she kind of waited on me.
“I was surprised but it worked in my favour and I adapted and picked my shots. Everyone in my weight class at the Olympic Games is tough and you have got to be on your game to win that fight.”
Ben Whitaker made the quarter-finals of the light-heavyweight division with a unanimous verdict over Abdelrahman Salah of Egypt.