Price is right despite lockdown challenges

Even the world middleweight boxing champion misses Nana's roast dinners.

Lauren Price was given up by her parents - unfit to look after her - at three days old and brought up by her grandparents in Caerphilly. They're all she's ever known.

After a week of training at GB Boxing's base in Sheffield in normal times, Price stuck Westlife on the car stereo and drove back to Wales

She'd then spend the weekend being spoiled on Sunday roasts and home-made chips, returning to Yorkshire a few pounds heavier and a good deal happier.

COVID-19 has ripped that ritual asunder. Price spent lockdown in Sheffield in order to be ready to return to training, while her grandad, 79, was shielding due to a combination of his age and having dementia.

"It has been really difficult being away from them for so long," said the 26-year-old. "I miss Nan's cooking a lot and just giving them a hug at the end of a week of training.

"Nan has been under a lot of pressure but my auntie has been back at home sorting them out with shopping, so I know they're being taken care of.

"I've got Nan set up on FaceTime. It was pretty painful at the start helping her work it but we're happy we can see each other. We chat every night."

The Welsh star's support system has been fellow GB fighter and flatmate Karris Artingstall, with whom she formed quite a bond during lockdown.

Price, who used to play for Cardiff City Women, taught her a few tricks with a football and reckons they must have covered every one of the punishing hills in suburban Sheffield.

"We spent so much time together during lockdown and we were all that was keeping each other going, I suppose," she said.

"We get on really well and have the same sort of personality, we were just determined to take everything with the postponement in our stride.

"She wouldn't let me play Westlife which was a shame, so I had to go to my room to listen to them!"

Bike rides of over 30km, off-road in the Peak District, and even feeding the ducks replaced sparring under the gaze of GB coach Rob McCracken.

Price is back in socially distanced training and revealed the impact of an early quiet word from McCracken, also Anthony Joshua's trainer.

"In the first couple of days, Rob came up to me and said 'we've been away for a long time but you still look sharp'" said Price.

"That gave me such a boost and so much confidence to hear it from him, to know that I'd done good work in lockdown and kept ticking over.

"Being back with the coaches makes it feel more real and it's nice to get feedback like that again."

Price has nearly got the set in the amateur boxing game, crowned world champion in 2019 after a successful appeal of a split decision initially in favour of Netherlands' Nouchka Fontijn.

She beat Fontijn, silver medallist in Rio, to European Games gold earlier last year and also topped the podium at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

All that remains, then, is an Olympic gold medal she has coveted for nearly 20 years, when she decided as a child she'd either go for gold or play football for Arsenal.

"Being an amateur boxer, the Olympics is the pinnacle and it's the biggest sporting event in the world," adds Price.

"I remember watching Kelly Holmes in 2004 and I've wanted to be a part of it since then.

"I represented Team GB at the European Games and that gives you a taste for it. That was great, so I can't imagine what an Olympics is going to be like.

"It's been my dream since I was eight years old, so that's not going to change."