Follow Your Heart by Natasha Jonas

As a child I was never allowed to sit about the house. I was always encouraged to be outside and be active. My fondest memories of my childhood are of playing with my two older male cousins. Being the oldest girl in the house (at that time) I felt I was always in competition with the boys and in order to be accepted and equal I had to be like them. This meant I played a lot of football, climbed a lot of trees, fought and generally enjoyed things considered as ‘boys play’. This friendly competition and need to feel equal, I would say was the making of the competitor that you see today.

My love for playing and being involved in sport, led to me watching and following sports, athletes and teams.

I don’t remember this, but I have been told by my mother that whilst watching an Olympic Games in my pre-teen years, I turned to her and said “Mum, I’m going to be there”. This was something I then later repeated to my physical education teacher in secondary school who I would say was another catalyst for me in competitive sports. I have tried so many different sports, and competed at international, county and local levels. There have been many highs and lows throughout my career but I think this will, drive and determination to be a sporting ‘somebody’ has always subconsciously stayed with me. I never knew how I was going to succeed, all I knew was that I was going to.

There was no better feeling than being able to speak to my mum after my Olympic qualification fight and being able to say “I did it, I’m going to be an Olympian”, especially since she remembers me being that child saying I want to be there. The road was long, hard and sometimes the dream felt like an impossibility, but I never gave up, I always believed in myself, gave my all and that kept the dream alive.

Fighting for the biggest plate of food with my cousins or for the control of the tv remote was a daily battle, so you would think naturally that a combat sport would be for me, but it wasn’t. Coming from a big family, I always liked to be part of a team and competing as part of a group where there was a joint effort. Boxing was different, there was nobody to hide behind in the Boxing ring, its the ultimate gladiatorial feel of you versus another person, totally different to what I had been use to but adapted too, I had only myself to rely on and I loved it.

I would consider myself to be a strong minded person and have never been easily influenced by others.

When none of my friends joined the local boxing club with me, that didn’t surprised me and I wasn’t scared to go along by myself to a formerly all male amateur club. None of my friends wanted to be boxers, but that didn’t bother me, I did. When challenged about my love for sport by friends, family and others I felt that this was right for me and that I’d found my calling and nobody could change my mindset. The more I was challenged the more determined that made me prove myself, I can be a boxer, I will be a boxer and I will be successful and prove you wrong. When it comes to competing sport I have never been your average, it changed me into a different person, this is another me.

The best advice I can give is follow your heart when deciding what it is you truly want from life, don’t let nothing or no one deter or influence you from achieving your dreams. It’s an old cliché but I do believe that anything is possible. Have a dream, believe you can achieve it, work hard through tough times and you will get your rewards. Do not focus on the how, it does not matter because destiny will always find a way.

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Written by Natasha Jonas

I'm a London 2012 Olympian, World bronze medalist, athlete mentor and boxing phenomenon.


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