A dream come true for Savannah

World champion Savannah Marshall
World champion Savannah Marshall

GOLDEN girl Savannah Marshall touched down in England as the nation’s first female world champion boxer.

The Headland boxer took the middleweight crown in China at the weekend and also clinched her place at the Olympics.

The Mail joined her proud family at Newcastle International Airport to greet the champion boxer.

The unassuming 21-year-old smiled with delight as she said: “This is what I have dreamt about since I was a kid, since I first started boxing.”

Savannah’s family could not hide their pride as they welcomed her home after her gruelling 22-hour trek from the Far East to the North East and proclaimed it as the greatest day of their lives.

Savannah’s mum Christine Dee and dad John Marshall were joined by family, friends and several members of the town’s boxing fraternity at the arrivals gate at Newcastle Airport after her trip home from China.

There were tears and cheers as the golden girl made her way through the airport, before the celebrations continued at a hastily-arranged gathering at the family home in Milbank Road.

John, 52, was first to Savannah’s side as she came through the airport clutching her medal, and described her achievement as “the greatest day of my life”.

“I cannot tell you how proud I am, we all are,” said John, a roofer.

“When she won that title on Saturday, we were watching it on the internet. I was a nervous wreck, Christine couldn’t watch it.

“But when she won, the relief was unbelievable. She says it hasn’t sunk in yet for her, and I don’t think it has for us.

“When she climbed onto that rostrum and had the gold medal placed around her neck, it was such a proud moment.

“She’s gone up against the top four ranked people in the world - and seen them all off.

“It was the greatest day of my life.”

Christine, a 51-year-old foster carer, added: “I was in and out of the house, I saw her get smashed on the nose and I was back out in the garden again.

“When she went out there, all we were bothered about was her doing well enough to get qualification for the Olympics.

“I spoke to her on the phone on the night she had been in the semi-final and knew she’d done enough to qualify.

“She said ‘mam, I’ve gone and done it now’. She was in a state of shock.

“That is what she has dreamed of since she was a kid. The Olympics has always been her goal, and she can now go into the games knowing she is the world champion.”

John is well aware of the expectation surrounding his daughter going into London 2012, with many observers having her down as one of the genuine Great British hopes of landing gold on home soil.

But he is confident she won’t get carried away and will continue to let her gloves do the talking.

He added: “This gold medal won’t change her, I know that for a fact.

“She will see all the hype and the stuff in the papers, but her coach Tim Coulter and the people at the club will keep her on her guard.

“She has a huge amount of respect for Tim, we all do, and he’ll make sure she doesn’t get over confident.”

Savannah, who won the world crown on Saturday, her 21st birthday, insists she won’t get carried away by talk of Olympic glory.

The former Sacred Heart and English Martyrs pupil, who started the sport at the age of 12 with the Headland Amateur Boxing Club, said: “It is a dream come true to be classed as the world champion, but to be honest it hasn’t really sunk in yet.

“My main aim when I went out to China was to get qualification for the Olympics.

“To get the gold medal is an unbelievable feeling.

“Now I’ve done this, I’ll be confident of doing well in the Olympics, but I’m not going to be going around saying I’m favourite to win gold and things like that.

“At the moment, I just want to enjoy being the world champion. This is what I have dreamt about since I was a kid, since I first started boxing.

“Any fighter wants to be the champion, and I’m no different.

“It was lovely to see everyone at the airport, I was sitting on the plane on the way up from Heathrow just expecting my mam and dad to be there waiting for me. I got a bit of a shock when the doors opened and I saw everyone standing there cheering with the flag and things.”