Rosie Eccles hopes she has finally lifted the 'boxing curse' that at times left her questioning her future after claiming a sensational gold medal at the Commonwealth Games.
The Welsh sensation was imperious in her light middleweight contest, stopping her Australian opponent Kaye Scott in the second round of their final bout at Birmingham’s NEC.
Her victory came four years after she suffered a crushing split-decision defeat at the same stage on the Gold Coast, settling for the silver medal that has stayed in its box since.
That disappointment was only exasperated by an early Olympic qualification exit but the 26-year-old Portskewett puncher was delighted to get her fairytale finish this time around.
“There have been highs and super big lows. I got selected for qualifiers and then Covid hit. I lost to the Russian in the first one, there have been cancellations,” Eccles said.
“You name it, it has happened. I am forever the optimist, always optimistic but even I started to think I had a boxing curse, so I'm over the moon (to win the gold medal).
“I was very much of two minds. There were times when I was like, ‘I’m so good, I’m going to make it happen’, but at other times I just thought, will it not?
“Things would come up out of the blue. Three weeks before the qualifier, I had a virus, you can't write these things. To come through it, I’ve got amazing people around me that helped me get through it, this is their win as much as mine.”
She continued: “It is all part of the story now. I can get my silver medal out of its box now. Other than taking it to schools, kids, and my old coach has it with him right now.
“I told him I’d bring back a gold one but other than that the silver has not really come out of the box. But now it is part of the story, and I can look back on it with pride now.”
This summer, Team Wales, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, compromises of over 200 athletes, all vying for medal success.
The emphatic nature of the triumph took even Eccles by surprise as she took the opening round on all five judges’ scorecards before stopping her opponent with a series of punishing blows.
“I’m just so happy, I knew I could beat her, but I didn't think I would get a stoppage,” she said. “I wasn't looking for a stoppage, but I often get them when I don't look for them. When I look for them, they don't tend to happen because they go into a shell and don't want anymore.”
Eccles is only the second Welshwoman to win Commonwealth Games boxing gold after Lauren Price, her former sparring partner who went on to become Olympic champion in Tokyo.
And having helped prepare Price for her date with Olympic destiny after putting her own qualification heartbreak behind her, Eccles wants to use her own golden moment to scale new heights.
“Obviously, I was prepping with Lauren, so I stayed in the camp with her. We go back a bit of time, but I’ve always been honest, I couldn’t watch Tokyo, it was too heart-breaking,” she said.
“She gets that, she’s a fighter like me. She did massively well but I just couldn’t watch, it just hurt too much. I was always so pleased for her though and she’s done on to do great things.
“This will give me momentum going forward. I have just got to keep working hard, I don't think you have seen the best of me yet. I will keep going and keep grinding.”
Fellow Welsh fighter Taylor Bevan was not able to emulate Eccles in his light heavyweight bout, losing a split decision 4-1 to Scotland’s Sean Lazzerini as he reflected on a brutal contest.
"Still gutted at the moment following the result,” he said. “I'm sure after a while I'll be proud of what I've achieved but now I'm still thinking about the fight I've just lost.
“It's tough. This is my fifth fight in the last week and a half so it's always going to be tough. But I've just got to deal with it. I felt good in there. First round I lost 4-1.
“Second round I won 3-2 but I thought I'd won that round quite clearly. Then the last I thought I could've just won it, but I needed to win it big. It wasn't clear enough to get it on decision.
“I’ll need to watch it back and reflect on my performance to properly say."
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