The middleweight boxer and Carlton College of Sport student will next week enter the ring aiming to go one better than her 2018 Commonwealth Games performance on the Gold Coast, where she finished with a silver medal after losing narrowly to Wales’ Lauren Price in the final.
Following an intense pre-Games training camp training three times a day and six days a week focusing on strength and conditioning, running and pad work, the 26-year-old says her preparation has been ‘exactly where it needs to be’ in order to perform at her best over the coming weeks.
“Our days have been packed full of training and trying to recover between sessions and eat and sleep, but I love every second of it,” Parker said.
Winning silver on the Gold Coast in 2018 was a highlight for Parker in her career. The event itself was one of her favourites, describing the feeling as ‘surreal’ having a crowd packed with Aussies cheering her on.
“The crowd was honestly so loud, it was the most incredible feeling in the world,” Parker said.
“It blew me away and honestly, I feel like it lifted me up and gave me so much energy, so when I went out there and fought, I won every round.”
While the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games ranks as one of her crowning achievements, Parker has ridden the ups and downs that often comes with life as a professional sportsperson.
Parker said that narrowly missing qualifying for her first Olympics in Rio 2016, and then being beaten in her opening bout last year at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games have been experiences that have shaped her career and kept her driven to being the best boxer she can possibly be.
Last year’s disappointment in Tokyo in particular gave her the push she needed for her preparation to Birmingham and through to the 2024 Paris Olympics, hiring a strength and conditioning coach, a new dietician and psychologist.
“My Tokyo campaign wasn’t what I wanted, I definitely thought I could have done a lot better,” Parker said.
“I bowed out early and it wasn’t my best performance and to be honest the preparation wasn’t ideal. But not using that as an excuse, I know I can learn and improve from that a hell of a lot, which I have done in my preparations for Birmingham.
“I know there’s a lot of things I want to improve and I’m definitely making small steps, at least improving 1% every day.”
Parker says she is motivated by her strive to be number one, that there is a certain satisfaction to getting in the ring knowing you have taken no short cuts and done everything you can.
“I want to be the best,” she said.
“One of my goals, not only is to win Australia’s first ever Olympic gold medal for boxing, or even the first female Olympic medal.
“I want to reach my potential and do everything in my power to make sure I am the best that I can be.”
Being a professional boxer while balancing study means having a busy schedule, however through joining La Trobe’s Elite Athlete Program, Parker has gained the support she needs to juggle her athletic pursuits with her academic commitments studying a Diploma of Sports Coaching and Development.
“Because my sport had taken up so much of my life, I thought I couldn’t have any other focus besides boxing,” Parker said.
“The (La Trobe Elite Athlete Program) has helped me to see that both are possible, and they actually compliment each other in a lot of ways.”
Parker says she feels greatly supported through the program and being able to compete in events across the world while not worrying about assessments has been a game changer for her.
“They helped me balance my sporting life and my study. I feel super supported through them as well, and I know that they want me to do my best as well as continue my studies, so it’s great,” Parker said.
To keep track of Josh’s progress and the performance of all of La Trobe’s Elite Athlete Program members at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, make sure you are following La Trobe Sport on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information on the La Trobe Elite Athlete Program, visit the La Trobe Sport website.