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Lauren Price was eight when she spelled out her destiny in a school assignment, writes Rachel Steinberg.
The Welsh boxer was a rambunctious child who found release in sport, so when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she wrote: “I want to be a world champion kickboxer, I want to play football for Wales, and I want to go to the Olympics.”
The teacher showed the ambitious scribble to Price’s nan, Linda, at parents’ evening. “We all laughed about it,” said the educator.
But Linda didn’t find it very funny.
“I said, ‘don’t laugh’,” she recalled. “I said, ‘they’re her dreams. Her dreams are special to her and they’re important.
“If they’re her dreams, no one is going to steal those dreams away.
“I tell you one thing now; I will be encouraging her.”
Price ticked the first item off her bucket list by 12, winning two gold medals at the WPKA Kickboxing World Championships and successfully defended both the following year.
The centre-half went on to earn 52 caps for Wales, captaining the U19s and playing for the senior team before committing to boxing in 2014, the same year she won bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Linda started clearing dishes out of her cabinets to accommodate the hardware that followed—Commonwealth gold in 2018, World and European Games titles in 2019—until the only cups in sight were trophies.
And earlier this month, the 26-year-old handed in her decades-long homework, punching her ticket to Tokyo by winning middleweight gold at the European Olympic Qualifiers in Paris.
None of it, she said, would be possible without the help of her doting nan who, along with late grandpa Derek who passed away in November, took Price in at three days old and refused to let her stop dreaming.
“My nan used to say to me, ‘reach for the moon – if you fall short you land on the stars’,” said the southpaw, who is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo.
“That’s always something that’s stuck with me. From the age of eight, it’s been my dream to go to an Olympic Games.
“As an athlete, you don’t get higher than that.
“The likes of Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams inspired me in 2012, when boxing was introduced into the Olympics.
“And I just thought that was the turning point for me.”
Without her grandparents in her corner, the Ystrad Mynach native firmly stated, she’d be in care instead of heading for Japan.
Like any Olympian, Price is eyeing a gold medal—Linda will gladly find space in the cabinet.
And while Price’s beloved nan can’t bear to watch her fight, she still barrages the athlete with encouraging text messages before every competition.
She will, of course, tune in for any podium moments. And though Price has ascended a great many over the years, the feeling of standing on those steps has never diminished.
She said: “To be the first female to represent Wales at boxing in the Olympic Games is another one I can add to my list for making history.
“Whether it’s the Welsh vest or the GB vest, the hairs on my arm stand up. It gives me goosebumps.
“Standing on top of that podium, listening to the national anthem, there’s no feeling in the world like it.”
Lauren Price is working with Purplebricks to encourage the nation to get behind Team GB on their journey to Tokyo, with the same amazing home support as London 2012. Visit @PurplebricksUK or https://www.purplebricks.co.uk/team-gb