Team GB star’s secret life driving taxis before landing National Lottery funding

Traditionally, when people jump into a taxi, it’s the driver who says, “You’ll never guess who I had in the back of my cab once.”

But in Caerphilly, it’s the passengers saying, “Can you believe we used to be driven home from the pub by an Olympic gold medallist!”

They’re talking about Lauren Price, who won gold in the women’s middleweight boxing for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics.

Turn back the clock a few years and Lauren was driving cabs all weekend so she could afford to train during the week.

“Before I became fully funded, my nan and grandad were supporting me,” she says. “I was on the Welsh team, training Monday to Thursday and driving cabs on Friday and Saturday nights.

“I’d finish work at 3-4am – obviously that affects your training. As soon as I got on to Team GB in 2017 and was National Lottery funded I was able to pack the driving in and go full time, which made all the difference,” says the 27-year-old, who has just scooped National Lottery Olympian of the Year at the National Lottery Awards 2021.

The National Lottery Awards 2021 honour ordinary people doing extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. Other winners include gold medal-winning wheelchair rugby Paralympian Kylie Grimes; 15-year-old activist Mariama Sanneh, who is fighting for gender and racial equality, and superstar volunteer Katherine Hughes, 72, who drove an ambitious bid to turn a former hospital into a community centre.

These projects – and hundreds of thousands more – are made possible by National Lottery players, who raise £30million for good causes like these every week.

The National Lottery Olympian of the Year award is voted for by the public, which makes it even more special for Lauren. “I can’t thank everyone enough,” she says. “It’s the first time this award has been presented, so I can add it to my list of firsts, next to being the first Welsh woman to win Olympic gold for boxing!”

Having the Olympics delayed 12 months by the pandemic not only made training tough for Team GB’s athletes, but meant that, sadly, Lauren’s beloved grandfather, who had been one of her biggest champions since she was a child, missed seeing her on the podium. “He passed away in November 2020, so it was a big thing for me when I was out there in Tokyo, knowing he was looking down on me,” says Lauren.

Returning to Wales with the gold medal around her neck, the boxer found 300 people waiting outside her home. “I live in a little village so it was crazy – they were all cheering me,” she laughs. But there was only one face she was looking for in the crowd: her nan. “She had been sending me motivational texts while I was away, and ever since I was a little girl she’d tell me, ‘Reach for the moon. If you fall short, you’ll land on the stars.’

“I hadn’t seen her for about six weeks and I’ve never seen her move so quickly as she did running towards the car,” she laughs.

“Since I’ve come back, the messages and support I’ve had has been unbelievable. I didn’t realise how many people had watched me compete in Tokyo until I got home.”

These days, when Lauren gets in a cab she is firmly in the back seat, while the drivers are now among her biggest fans. “I was in a taxi in London a couple of weeks ago and the guy was saying, ‘I watched it all.’ I thought he was just being nice, but then he broke it down and knew everything about the fights,” she says. “The support has been phenomenal.”

How you’re helping to fund some new heroes

The National Lottery Awards 2021 celebrate the inspirational people who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding. By playing The National Lottery, you raise £30million every week for good causes, like our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

As Lauren and her fellow Olympians know, National Lottery funding enables our athletes to train full time and gives them access to world-class coaches, innovative technology and medical support.

“It’s every amateur boxer’s dream to get on a full-time programme and get funded by The National Lottery,” says Lauren.

“To compete at the highest level and work at the same time is impossible. Now training is my job and I love what I do – I can give my all and concentrate 100 per cent on being the best I can be.”

  • To find out how your numbers make amazing happen, please visit: national-lottery.co.uk/news.
  • Rules and Procedures Apply. Players must be 18+.

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