IT’S an old adage in the fight game that it’s your losses that ultimately make you a better fighter.
It’s something Commonwealth Games gold medalist Shelley Watts has leaned on heavily in the wake of a controversial first-round exit from last year’s Rio Olympics.
Watts was considered a gold medal hope in the women’s lightweight division but was defeated by Italian teenager Irma Testa in a highly disputed split decision.
After a seven-year slog to get to that point it was a tough pill to swallow but the 29-year-old is determined to turn the experience into a positive as she begins her tilt at back to back Commonwealth Games gold medals.
“It’s certainly hard when it first happens,” Watts said.
“You put your heart and soul into it and I had sacrificed a lot but on reflection it’s something you definitely need to go through. It’s something I’ve realised, that I’m still young in my career.
“I’ve only been boxing seven years and amazing as that time has been Rio and that heartbreak is going to push me forward.”
Watts has since relocated to Albion Park to train under Nudge Mieli, alongside former Glasgow Comm Games teammate Mark Lucas, at Forte Boxing Academy.
“Being the caring person that he is, Nudge just noticed that I was not myself on my social media channels post-Rio,” Watts said.
“He put his hand out and said if you need to talk I’m here to chat.
“I was in Wollongong one day and we had a coffee and I said to him that the hardest thing post-Rio was finding a new gym because I couldn’t train at the AIS anymore.
“Mark and I have trained together before leading into the [Glasgow] Commonwealth Games and Mark knew how hard I trained and what I could bring to the gym.
“We jump through the ropes on our own but you can’t even get to that ring without a team to get you ready mentally, physically and emotionally.
“It’s probably something I didn’t have as much heading into the [Rio] Games so I’m really excited about the possibilities not just for myself but for Haithem [Lamoouz] and Mark as well working as a team at Forte.”
She’s confident her new team can help her defend her title at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and, possibly, another tilt at that Olympic gold in 2020.
“I’d love to be able to go back to back [golds],” Watts said.
“To go down in history as the first [female] who’s done it... I definitely want to chase that. The beauty of it being in my home country is amazing, my family don’t get to watch me fight very often so that would be pretty special.
“I would also love the opportunity to give back the time and effort I kniow Nudge is going to be putting into me by bringing a gold medal back to this gym.
“That’s my complete focus right now but I would love to be a duel Olympian and have another crack at that gold medal in Tokyo. It’s obviously a four-year time period so it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen but it’s definitely one of my goals.”