BECOMING her country’s first global amateur champion, going the year unbeaten, topping the world rankings and securing European Games gold – 2019 couldn’t have gone any better for Lauren Price.

It is probably no surprise then that the 25-year-old, also crowned GB Boxing’s female fighter of the year, says it was the best 12 months of her career in the ring.

But despite everything she achieved, Price knows that 2020 has the potential to be the greatest year of her life, with an Olympic gold medal the sole focus for Pontypool ABC’s finest.

An Olympic title has been Price’s dream since she was in primary school, and it could well become a reality in Tokyo this summer if everything goes to plan.

Providing she successfully navigates her way through the qualifiers – her first chance to earn a place at the Games is in London in March – then Japan will be Price’s maiden Olympics.

And the former Wales football international sees no reason why – victorious or not – it would be her only Olympic experience.

“Winning Olympic gold has been my dream since I was eight years of age, so achieving that would top everything in my career,” she said.

“Everyone asks me the same question about going pro, and since I won the world title there have been promoters and managers getting in touch.

“But it has never really interested me, and I’ve got no reason to rule out another four years as an amateur.

“Looking back and seeing the likes of Nicola Adams, all her success came from being an amateur, she didn’t really do much as a pro. Her success came after she won the Olympic gold in 2012.

“Turning professional doesn’t really interest me. I haven’t really thought about it, I’m only thinking about Tokyo.

“Winning an Olympic medal, you’re made for life.”

She added: “I love what I do and that’s why I do it, and I’ve always been supported by my nan and grandad.

“Don’t get me wrong, the money now is good. Being on the Welsh team, funding wasn’t great, and that’s why I had to work on Friday and Saturday nights as a taxi driver.

“But to do something I love every day, and to get a decent wage for it, is great. I can’t say it’s an easy life because being away from home is tough sometimes.

“And I don’t live a normal life for a 25-year-old. When I have time off, I do have a blowout, but you’ve got to be disciplined and stay focused otherwise you’re not going to achieve anything.”

The reigning Commonwealth Games champion has medalled at her last five major competitions, most recently picking up world gold in Siberia.

But it was far from straight forward against Dutch rival Nouchka Fontijn, who had ended Price’s hopes of gold at the same event in India 12 months earlier.

Rio 2016 runner-up Fontijn was declared the winner of the middleweight final in Russia and almost had the gold medal around her neck.

However, the Welsh team had protested the original decision and the officials in charge sided with them, overturning the result and making Price Wales’ first ever world amateur champion.

“I didn’t have a clue what was going on,” said Price. “I got pulled out of the ring and didn’t see them putting the yellow card in to protest the result.

“I got on the podium and they gave the two bronze medals, and then I was stood there for about 10 minutes thinking ‘what’s going on?’

“It came over the PA that Wales had protested, so I got off the stage and went back to the changing rooms.

“There’s a panel of three people and it’s up to them to decide whether the judges have got to watch the fight back.

“Being in Russia and boxing being boxing, did I think I was ever going to get the decision? Probably not.

“My coach then said ‘you’ve got it’ and I was like ‘what?’ I didn’t quite believe it.

“I only started believing it when I was on the podium with the medal around my neck and the national anthem playing. I’ve got to pinch myself now to believe it.”

She continued: “I obviously had the best year of my career and I just hope I can keep the success going.

“I’m going to Colorado for a training camp and then I’ve got the Olympic qualifiers in March in London.

“I’d like to do the business there and keep doing what I’m doing.

“I feel confident more than anything because I’ve beaten the top girls and I’m on a great road.

“I’ll keep digging away, training hard, putting 100% in, but keeping my feet on the ground as well.”