By David McPherson
IMAGE|| Courier Mail
Shelley Watts made history in Glasgow when she became the first Australian female to win Commonwealth boxing gold. After struggling with adrenal fatigue and eating, mental and injury issues she was forced to withdraw from 2018 Games qualification.
Shelley shares her thoughts…
Right now, at 11:57pm on a Saturday night in Sydney, there are 2 types of boxers. The first type is celebrating, drinking or eating with friends and family with their smile from ear to ear and their heart rate still racing. They think back to just over a few hours ago when they were front and centre in the boxing ring at the Croatian Club in Punchbowl. Their names had just been called out as the winner of their bout and their hand was raised in victory by the referee. Their dreams had become a reality. They are the 2017 Australian Champions in their individual weight category.
This year, winning this title is extra special because it also means they have all but guaranteed their spots on the 2018 Australian Commonwealth Games team to compete on the Gold Coast on home soil.
To all of those boxers I want to pass on my biggest congratulations – there really is nothing like that jubilation.
The other type of boxer is the one completely opposite to the first. They left everything they had in the ring but they’re heartbroken, devastated and a ball of mess. They’re questioning why they spent so much time in the gym, on the road and punching a bag. They’re questioning if it was worth this pain.
Just as they say, there is no better feeling than having your hand raised in victory in the ring. The same can be said in reverse – there is NO worse a pain than standing in the centre of the ring with the judge raising your opponent’s hand. It takes your breath away in the worst kind of way – it hurts more than you can explain. It leaves you questioning everything.
To this category of boxers, I want to pass on my condolences. I want to let you know, if you ever need an ear or shoulder, I am always just a message away.
For me, I don’t really fall into either of these 2 categories right now. Because for me, my selection event was over before it even started.
It is common knowledge in boxing that many boxers face a battle even before they enter the ring. Often it’s even harder than the actual battle between the ropes. This battle is the battle with the scales, and unfortunately, and this absolutely pains me to say or write – the scales beat me.
Unfortunately, at 7:42am on a Thursday morning, the decision was made to get out of the sauna. There was no way I was going to drop that last bit of weight needed to ensure I would weigh in under my weight category limit. With three kilograms to go and under an hour until the end of weigh in I made the decision to end my chance to fight.
Boxing is governed by weight – it is simple and it is known. It is the responsibility of the boxer to make sure they make weight. In this situation, I want it to be known that there is nobody to blame but me.
I tried so hard – I worked so hard. But unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough. I am devastated and heart broken to realise that I wont be a part of the Australian team to compete on the Gold Coast next year. It also hurts to know I won’t be able to try and defend my Commonwealth Games title.
If I’m being honest, I’m not sure if it will stop hurting between now and the Games. I have vowed not to let it define me or get the better of me. If you let a little setback define your future, you are living a life less than you are worth and less than you are capable of achieving.
My plans now are to continue working on my weaknesses in and out of the ring until they become my strengths, and to keep focussing on the positives in life because there are so many of them.
I am LOVING boxing again!
I am not finished in the ring – fighting for Australia and representing this amazing country. I may have to wait a little longer than originally planned, but I’m willing to fight for my fairytale.
In the meantime I intend on helping our boxing team to prepare for the Games and tough competition ahead. I have offered my services in whatever capacity Boxing Australia may need them. I also hope to be able to help and support any of the athletes in Team AUS who will be preparing for some fierce competition.
Another thing that has crossed my mind is commentating. I would love the opportunity to join the Channel 7 team – if they would have me that is.
Outside of the ring, I’ll keep plodding along with my PLT (practical legal training) and working in the law courts back in Port Macquarie. It’s so rewarding and a lot of fun to finally put 10 years of study into practice.
As an athlete, the length of our career is always unknown and it’s exciting to know I can concentrate on my ‘plan B’ and what I intend on doing post my boxing career. I am also guest speaking and running resilience workshops for companies, corporates or teams. It’s something that allows me to pass on the lessons I’ve learnt and introduce others to the amazing sport that has given me so much.
One thing is for sure – both in and out of the ring. I will always continue to FIGHT FOR MY FAIRYTALE. And hopefully encourage others to fight for theirs!