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I’ve got my heart set on Tokyo 2020: Shona Whitwell Interview

Shona Whitwell is a name you may not have heard of, but she is someone who you should be keeping tabs on. The talented St Ives boxer is only 20 and has already achieved more than many could dream of in her amateur career. Boxing is in her blood, thanks to her dad,

“I started boxing when I was just 5 years old. My dad runs St Ives Boxing Academy and is my coach” Shona tells me proudly “I had to wait till I was 5 then I was just doing it for fun until I was 12 which was when I had my first fight. To begin with I didn’t think much about my future in boxing as I was only 12 I just wanted to fight and was enjoying it until I started to take it more seriously”

At the end of 2017 Shona had the unpaid code at her feet. She had recently won the Haringay Box Cup, medalled at the European championships and was training with Team GB as part of their development squad.
“Those accomplishments felt great, I had the best season of my whole career; with it only being my first year as a senior!”

2018 should have been a huge year for the 20 year old. The Commonwealth Games, the World Championships and European Championships were all on the horizon. However she was forced to miss out on all three due to injury. Shona explains how the injury occurred,

“It came about during the EU championships where I won a bronze, losing out to Mira Potkonen. During the fight I went dizzy and managed to make it through the fight. Afterwards I was told I just had concussion, but the dizziness and migraines carried on for months and months. I had post traumatic migraines”.

Shona credits the help of her dad for her injury not lasting longer than it did, “GB told me to go away, rest and try and see if I could get better at home. Constantly going up there and attempting to train and failing was putting a lot of pressure on me and was making me worse. So I’ve been home since August now. Me and my dad have managed to get me to complete recovery within a few months”

Shona spent the majority of 2018 out of action and returned two weeks ago to partake in the Women’s Winter Box Cup where she won gold and was awarded the Best Elite boxer award,

“Yeah it was a great feeling, but also strange after having such a long time out and after having a head injury I didn’t really know how I would take it as I knew getting back into sparring was hard enough with learning to take punches again”.

The confident 20 year old went on to say, “I knew I was capable of winning regardless of the ring rust; but winning best elite really topped it off”.

As mentioned, Shona just missed out on selection for the Commonwealth Games and the World Championships, as well as a chance to medal again at the European Championships. She remained focused on getting healthy again, however,

“It was devastating not being medically fit to be selected for the Commies [Commonwealth Games]. I also missed out on the Europeans and worlds but I managed to cope with the fact that I may have needed this rest, in order to have a strong 2019”.

Shona’s mental strength is one to be applauded – many people her age may have given up and left boxing behind. 2018 is a year best forgotten in her fledging career, “I’m definitely glad to see the end of this year as it has been disappointing and a struggle.

I’m more than ready for next year. Now the rust is off I’m hoping to get back on Team GB early next year, just before the Olympic qualifiers. I believe I’m still number one in the country and I’m ready to put the work in to get back to where I belong”

And the future? “The aim is to get a few more bouts in and get selected for the Olympic qualifiers as I’ve got my heart set on Tokyo 2020”.

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