May 23 2013 Latest news:
Friday, July 27, 2012
From Lowestoft to London, it’s been a long road for Anthony Ogogo. He explains to MARK ARMSTRONG how he won’t get caught up in the occasion
IT can be all too easy to get caught up in Olympic fever.
The thought of the world’s elite athletes descending on London is enough to promote even the merest tingle of excitement on those predicting two weeks of transfort chaos in the capital.
As observers, we can afford to let the Olympics sweep us up in one fluid motion – that’s the beauty of being a mere onlooker over what promises to be a historic event, which could define a generation.
Unfortunately the athletes representing their countries cannot afford to be. Even British athletes lucky enough to have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete at their home games perhaps won’t even enjoy it. For some only a gold medal around their necks will make all the sacrifices made during four years of preparation thoroughly worth it.
That’s the position Lowestoft boxer Anthony Ogogo finds himself in.
The 23-year-old has had to overcome numerous obstacles placed in his path just to get to London – he is not about to waste this chance.
It won’t come round again.
“It’s really exciting but I’m not going there as a fan – I’m going there to win a gold medal,” said the middleweight. “I’m not going to let it get the better of me.
“I went to a dinner with Michael Johnson recently and at his home Olympics (Atlanta 1996) a lot of his team-mates went there as a fan.
“He said he went there with a gold medallist mindset and ended up doing very well.
“I want to enjoy it but not enough so it takes away the emphasis of why I’m there.
“A lot of the sports take place over one or two days but if you’re successful as a boxer it spans the whole games. In a strange kind of way I don’t want to enjoy it that much – I want to be training in between my fights, waking up early, and get into that routine.
“I want to be quite boring and quite monotonous and then I can enjoy the trappings afterwards.”
The Olympics were all Ogogo could think about just over a month ago but when his mother, Teresa, was hospitalised it forced him to re-think his priorities.
He even considered pulling out of the Games so he could support his family through this difficult time but his four sisters talked him round. Teresa would be devastated to find out her son sacrificed his dream to be by her bedside.
“When it happened I just wanted to pull out – I just didn’t see how I could focus on anything other than my mum,” said Ogogo, whose mother has fortunately since stabilised in hospital. “I just thought ‘how can I focus on something when it felt so irrelevant to me?’
“My sisters just said to me that my mum would feel terrible if she knew I had given up because of her.
“I had a couple of weeks off from training which is not ideally what you want at this stage obviously but there was no point me going back straight away because my head just wouldn’t have been in it.
“In my first week back it was just like I was in a trance really. It was nice to get to a training camp in France and remove myself from the situation as much as I could and try to focus.
“It’s been so traumatic – I just want to get there now and do as well as I possibly can. If anything it has made me more determined to do well. I’m not just here for no reason – I want to really make it count otherwise I might as well just be at home.
“I want to get it underway now – I’ve been training for so long. I’m sick of doing all the training, I just want to get in there and do what I’m doing the training for.”
After making the decision to compete, Ogogo has been playing catch-up in his training but, after the training camp in Bugeat with Team GB earlier this month, he feels he could not be in better shape physically to go for gold. Even the shoulder injury that threatened his qualification for the Games has settled down how he and his coaches hoped. “I’m putting the work in and I’ve caught up – my coaches are happy with me and they think that I’m coming good at the right time,” he added. “I recently set a new personal best of 16:20 for a three-mile run that I normally do so I’m definitely physically in good shape – I’m in the shape of my life.
“My shoulder is still a bit sore but that was always going to be the case – it’s nowhere near as sore as it was before the operation.
“I’m as fit as I’ve ever been and tactically I think I’m at my best as well.”
The training camp in Bugeat restored a lot of the confidence Ogogo lost as a result of his enforced break from training.
He sparred against current number eight in the world Abdelmalek Rahou and the Algerian couldn’t handle Ogogo.
“He barely landed a glove on me, let alone a scoring blow so that was really good for my confidence.
“I also sparred against the (light heavyweight) brother of the Brazilian that beat me in the World Championships when I had my bad shoulder.
“I did a good nine rounds against him – he was really trying to give it to me, it was a full on nine rounds but it was exactly what I needed.
“I’ve got a couple of spars left so I just want them to be really competitive so that I’m as ready as I can be.”
The weigh-in takes place today when Ogogo will also find out exactly who stands between him and gold.
He is hoping for a favourable draw but acknowledges to be the best then he has to beat the best.
“I need to get the rub of the green in the draw but I’m going to have to beat anyone that is put in front of me,” he said. “It’s the Olympic Games, they are the best fighters in the world. To be the best you have to beat everybody and I feel good. I just want to weigh-in and get that first win out the way. I want to win that gold medal – I feel like I have got extra reason to go and do it now.
“It is going to take some man to beat me.”