Anthony Ogogo fit and ready for European qualifiers after Czech win
Anthony Ogogo achieved something far more important than a gold medal at the Czech Grand Prix last weekend.
As the European qualifying event in Turkey draws closer with Ogogo's Olympic hopes at stake, the 23-year-old admitted to going into last weekend's event with worries his shoulder wouldn't be able to stand up in a competitive arena.
For all the hours of sparring in Sheffield under the watchful eye of GB principal Rob McCracken this was very different.
After almost six months of gruelling rehabilitation work following surgery, Ogogo was about to face another test on his journey to London 2012 – and he passed with flying colours as he reported no ill-effects from victories over Aleksandar Drenovak and Arbi Chakaev in the Czech Republic.
Operation London 2012 is still very much on.
'I was really nervous before – all kinds of things are running through your head,' said the Lowestoft boxer, who must make the final in Turkey next month to snatch a place in the GB Olympic team. 'But I knew as soon as I started to do some bag work to warm up for the fight that my shoulder wouldn't let me down.
'I remember at the Europeans last year when I didn't quite know what was wrong. I wasn't even nervous about fighting – I was just panicking about my shoulder.
- 1 Driver caught hitting speeds of 119mph on A47
- 2 Can you answer these 10 GCSE questions designed for 16-year-olds?
- 3 Fake chefs deliver out-of-date lasagne to Carrow Road ahead of Spurs clash
- 4 Homes destroyed after blaze breaks out in terraced housing
- 5 Where the streets have no cars... the community that banned the school run
- 6 Investigation closed after cash stolen from popular attraction
- 7 Crash closes part of B1145 in west Norfolk
- 8 City burger joint takes beef off the menu
- 9 More cameras could be on way to fine law-breaking Norfolk motorists
- 10 Cyclist airlifted to hospital with serious injuries following incident
'By the World Championships I knew what was wrong with it but it was even worse by then. I didn't get nervous about the fight – I was walking to the ring thinking 'I hope my shoulder is all right'.
'But for this tournament it was the first time in a year that I felt able to have a proper warm-up.
'I felt really good. I didn't put too much pressure on myself this time – I just wanted to enjoy being back in the ring and doing what I love doing.
'It was nice to be nervous again about actually boxing an opponent rather than worrying about my shoulder.'
It was Ogogo's victory in the semi-final against Drenovak that has really made people stand up and take notice.
Many felt recovering from shoulder surgery in time for the European qualifiers would be too big a challenge for Ogogo. However, he showed in comprehensively beating the Serbian that he is more than up to the task in a bout that could prove to be ideal preparation for the acid test in Turkey next month.
'I beat him 16-7 so it was quite convincing,' added Ogogo, who was officially confirmed as part of the Team GB squad for the European qualifying event yesterday. 'He's already guaranteed his spot at the Olympics, which is nice on one hand because it shows I'm better than someone already there but frustrating as well.
'He is right up there as a boxer and it's good to know I can beat that calibre of opponent even after a long lay-off.'
While victory provided a timely boost to Ogogo's confidence in the ring, the Triple ABC man is not getting carried away and knows he will have to build on his recent success to make the Olympics.
'I'm trying it out where I don't get too low when things aren't going well and I don't get too high if things are going well,' he said. 'I'm trying to keep in this little 'goldielocks' zone where everything is about right.
'I was happy with the results and the performances. With being out for so long there was bound to be a bit of rust but I was pleased with my performance level but the main thing is obviously the Euros.'