Nikita Parris inspired by sister Natasha Jonas as she realises Olympic dream

Nikita Parris says it is “massive” that she is set to follow in the footsteps of her sister Natasha Jonas by representing Great Britain at the Olympics and has described the boxer as “a real inspiration”.

London 2012 saw Jonas make history as she became the first British female fighter to compete at the Olympics.

Parris, the Lyon forward who has scored 14 goals in 52 England appearances, is among an 18-player GB squad for this summer’s Tokyo Games.

England and Lyon forward Parris is in the 18-player Great Britain squad for the Tokyo Olympics (John Walton/PA).

(PA Archive)

The 27-year-old said: “It’s a massive moment. To be selected for any major tournament is a great achievement, but Team GB is special because it’s four nations into a team of 18. It’s not an easy team to be picked into.

“And to go to an Olympics is unbelievable, a dream. In 2012 I watched it, in 2016 I also watched it, and now I can be a part of it in 2021.

“In 2012, I watched my sister in the Olympics. To watch my sister in a GB team and then to be selected into a GB team is massive. It’s a really nice experience for us as sisters, us as family.

“She really created a legacy by going to the Olympics in 2012. She was the first woman to be positioned in the boxing ring for GB women.

Jonas (right) became the first British female boxer to compete at the Olympics at London 2012 (Nick Potts/PA).

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“I think it’s massive and she’s a real inspiration. At 36 years old she’s still competing in pro boxing, in great shape and really doing well.”

Asked if Jonas had been able to pass on much advice, Parris said: “Yeah a lot!”

Parris is joined in Hege Riise’s squad by a quintet who played in Hope Powell’s GB team at London 2012, which reached the quarter-finals – England’s Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Ellen White and Scotland’s Kim Little.

“The girls have shared their experiences,” Parris said.

“We’ve had a few conversations and also I’m sure there’ll be many more conversations during the tournament – understanding how to deal with expectations, pressures, understanding what the game is all about, and ultimately really pushing on from 2012 and really going for those medals.

“Ultimately we want the gold and 2012 never delivered that.”

Parris was not involved in England’s first match under interim boss Riise, February’s friendly against Northern Ireland, with the Norwegian saying Lyon had not wanted to release the player because of coronavirus regulations.

Parris was then initially unable to be part of the Lionesses squad for April’s friendlies against France and Canada as a result of Covid-19 cases at Lyon, before subsequently testing negative and being cleared to join up.

Hege Riise is overseeing the GB squad after three matches as England interim boss (Mike Egerton/PA).

(PA Wire)

“In the last England camp I was able to work with her on a one-on-one basis and really understand her as a person and what she expects as a coach,” Parris said of Riise, who won Olympic gold as a Norway player and United States assistant boss.

“It’s been good and I do understand what Team GB want out of this tournament and it’s a gold medal. Everyone wants to win, so that’s the focus.”



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