FOUR years after her trailblazing gold medal in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, boxer Shelley Watts is not sure she can bring herself to watch her title defence unfold without her on the Gold Coast.
The gold medal in the 60kg division over India’s Laishram Devi was the first time women’s boxing was on the Commonwealth Games program.
“It’s a funny one because it will always go down in history but sometimes I don’t like to say that because no one else had an opportunity before me,” Watts said.
“But it’s definitely an amazing thing and what the gold medal really comes down to is the prize for all of the hard work and belief you instil in yourself leading into it.
“Because you have to have this resounding belief in yourself before everyone else does that it’s possible, then when you are lucky enough to have the gold medal it means all the hard work is warranted.
“It means so much to finish something that you started because the four or five fights at the Games are the fun at the end of the road after all that strenuous training.”
But from the high of Glasgow came the low of Rio two years later where Watts bowed out of her first Olympics in the first round.
“I think I’ve found out in the last month that I’m still dealing with it,” she said.
“It’s been 18 months and again, the exact same way that a win re-affirms everything for you, a loss makes you question everything because I think I worked harder going into the Olympics than the Commonwealth Games and I would have never expected to get the result I got, it was a stab to the heart.”
That result started a struggle for motivation and although she got back into training, Watts missed out on qualifying for the Gold Coast Games by 3kg.
Having moved back to Port Macquarie, she finished her university degree and has started her practical legal training, but in a sporting sense Watts feels like she’s in limbo.
“I can almost be admitted to be a practising solicitor in New South Wales but it’s like ‘do you want to go back and redeem yourself (in boxing)?’
“It plays on your mind every single day and I’m not ready to give it up, I’m only 30 and know I have a lot of potential to keep going but it’s still a struggle for motivation.”
She now trains every day out of Port Macquarie Boxing Club and had her first fight since Rio last month in a club bout which she won at 75kg in Singleton.
“It was great to get back in the ring because I forgot about the nerves before a fight and getting ready,” Watts said.
“And also the nerves that come with people’s expectations of what they’re going to see when you step in the ring. I got some positive feedback, it’s definitely not the right weight division for me, I’m carrying too much, but in the same sense it wasn’t bad to be in there and swinging the arms.
“But it was an interesting battle to contend with in my own head that the last time I fought it was for my country in front of thousands of people at an Olympic Games, and now I was going back to fight in a little civic centre in Singleton.”
Watts says she doesn’t know whether the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games will stoke the fire for her to return to the top level of the sport but anything is possible.
“I can’t even tell you if I’m going to be willing to watch the Games. I will 100 per cent be committed to being behind each of the boxers and I really hope that everyone does amazingly,” she said.
“I was lucky enough to see Anja Stridsman, the 60kg representative, at the Singleton fight night and as a parting gesture I said ‘good luck mate, make sure the medal stays in Australia’ so I’ll be behind them but I’m just not sure I can watch it or not.”