After winning gold at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018, British boxer Caroline Dubois is now aiming to make a similar impact on the senior stage at next year’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Here, she tells Olympic.org about how the addition of women’s boxing to the Olympic programme in 2012 helped inspire her, and looks back on her own Olympic experiences at the YOG…
How do you reflect on your experiences at the YOG Buenos Aires 2018?
I thought it was a really, really good time. It was a great experience. I've never been to an international sports tournament where it's not just boxing, it's other sports as well. It was great to really see the level of athletes all around the world that were my age, and some were even younger, and it was just such a great experience. I had to up my game because the people in the tournament were so good.
How did the YOG compare to other events that you've competed in?
I'd say the level of boxing was obviously at a very high standard. You're boxing with the best girls in their respective countries, so the level of boxing was really high. The tournament itself was put together really well. You could tell how big it was and how much it meant to the people and the other athletes and the other coaches. And it was just really, really good. I would say it was just up there with the best ones that I've ever been to.
What are your favourite memories from your time in Buenos Aires?
I'd say winning the gold medal and standing on the podium. It was such a hard year that year, because we went to the European Championships, we went to the World Championships, and then to top it off, winning the Youth Olympic gold medal was just amazing.
Looking ahead to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, how does it feel to know that you already have experience of winning a Youth Olympic gold medal?
It feels good. Obviously, that was at a youth level and now we're stepping up to a senior level, so I can't get too big-headed or too overeager just because I won the Youth Olympic gold. But I would say that I feel like I have the experience of what it's like to go to an Olympic Games. I know how high the level is going to be. I know how the tournament itself is. So, I feel like just the experience itself was what really counted. We were out there for three weeks and I've never been away from home for that long. So, it was just really strange.
What did you learn during your time at the YOG?
I would say that it taught me how to be a strong person, independent. Being away from home for three weeks was something I'd never done before. Normally, tournaments are 10 days and then you're back home. It's over really quickly because you're fighting. But we were out there for two weeks before we even started competing because boxing was on last. Constantly staying ready, constantly making sure that your rate is good and you're always training. That was probably what helped, and what was the most important thing that I learnt,: how to stay prepared even when you're out there at tournaments. Obviously, you're trying to relax and you're enjoying yourself, and you're going away to watch other people compete as well. But also, staying switched on because you've still got a job to do and you just have to be ready to do it.
How has your career progressed since competing at the YOG?
It's gone really well. After the Youth Olympics, because I was still a youth, I went to the Europeans again and I won that. And then obviously now, as I'm a senior, I've really gone up a level. Now I'm on the Great Britain Olympic team. So hopefully next year, if the Olympic qualifiers go ahead, I'll be going to that.
What do the Olympic Games mean to you?
They mean everything. As a little girl when I started boxing, women didn’t compete in the Olympic Games, so I never really had that as a goal. I just wanted to box, compete, go professional and do what I could. As soon as I saw women competing in 2012 – Nicola Adams, Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields, the likes of these great boxers – it really ignited a fire me. And that's all I ever wanted after the 2012 Olympics was to win an Olympic gold medal. To walk out to that atmosphere, compete and win. That's all I’ve wanted, from the age of 12 until now. And that dream is very much alive. So, the Olympic Games mean a lot. Every time I train, that's all I want.