Future the next challenge for Lowestoft’s London Olympics boxing medallist Anthony Ogogo
He had to wait a week, but Lowestoft middleweight Anthony Ogogo finally got his hands on a London Olympics bronze medal on Saturday night – before everything immediately switched to what happens next.
The 23-year-old missed out on fulfilling his dream of becoming an Olympic champion at Excel Arena yet with everything Ogogo has battled through to even get to the Games, the shimmering bronze around his neck and its weight in significance will make all proud of his efforts.
'It feels good – it's not the one I wanted, but it's more about what I've had to do to get this,' said the Lowestoft Triple A ABC fighter.
'It's more about what the medal represents to me rather than the medal itself – the ordeals I've had to overcome, the adversity I've faced to get the medal. It means more to me than just a bronze medal.'
Shoulder surgery a matter of months ago, making his final shot at qualification count and the untimely illness of his mother all make the journey tough for Ogogo to bear. His first wish now, to get home and see his family in Lowestoft.
What happens after that though remains pertinent. Many a boxer has shined – like Ogogo has done – on the greatest of amateur stages, before leaving the Olympics and its amateur code to take on the professional game. Seven male GB boxers arrived at London 2012 – the question is, who now takes their fight on to a whole new level?
'It's common sense I don't think all seven of us lads are going to be here for Rio in 2016,' said Ogogo.
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'I couldn't tell you which ones aren't going to be here, which ones are going to turn pro or even just leave the programme because they're not good enough or they've just had enough of it. But we've all had a brilliant time together. We've all really worked hard, had that banter in the gym and that enthusiasm together in the competitions trying to push each other on.
'It's a really special squad and when you look at people like Tom Stalker and Andy Selby that didn't get a medal, and I'm standing here with a medal, that proves how hard it is.
'I think myself more than anybody has enjoyed being an amateur. I love it. I love coming away and I love the regular competition, the banter on the squad.
'I want to absorb this, let the dust settle and when that happens I can make a judgement on what I want to do for the rest of my life. But it feels a bit odd, because since I've been 12 I've always thought about being Olympic champion, and I've given everything to do it and fallen short.
'So now I need to decide a new goal. I want to be the best in the world. It hasn't happened here. I'm third best. It wasn't my time this year, but it will be my time – whether that's Olympic gold or in something completely different, we'll see.
'If I had won gold, potentially I could've turned pro. Potentially I thought I wanted to be the first person to defend the middleweight title in Rio. And potentially I thought I'd have achieved the dream in front of 10,000 Brits – maybe it's time to pack up because how am I going to top that? There are so many different things I could have thought.'
Ogogo, who shared third step on the podium with fellow losing semi-finalist Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan, noted the final – which saw his conqueror Brazilian Esquiva Falcao Florentino and eventual winner, Japan's Ryota Murata, fight out a narrow, leggy bout. It was the pair's fourth fight of the tournament after first round byes, leaving Ogogo to lament his own 'fourth fight syndrome' just 24 hours earlier against a fresher opponent.
But there was a shared joy in success for one of his GB team-mates – Olympic bantamweight champion Luke Campbell.
'I was up in that crowd and I was in tears,' said Ogogo. 'He's my best mate in boxing. We've travelled the world together, roomed together, we live together. I've spent more time with him than I have my girlfriend or family in the last three years – and that's not even an exaggeration. So seeing him win that gold meant so much to me. I was so emotional for him. I'm really proud of him.'
The support back in Lowestoft has been substantial for Ogogo – and it was certainly appreciated. Now he just wants to make his return to his mother, who continues to make good progress after suffering a brain aneurysm.
'I think my sisters have been being clever and not really telling me everything so I don't worry – but I just want to get back and see her; apparently I'm going to see a massive change for the better, so I can't wait to see her,' said Ogogo.
'The support has been brilliant back home – well apparently it's been so good, although I've been in this little bubble here. But I just want to thank everyone at home who has been supporting me and everyone across the country. I've had loads of people tell me they wished I had won gold and I was the crowd favourite, so I really appreciate that. I just want to carry on making people happy and doing my best.'
As for most competing at London 2012, it will be the memorable and even lucid moments that will stick with the Team GB squad – never mind the physical object of a medal.
For one, Ryan Giggs popping into the physio room to say hello and turning the middleweight into a giddy schoolboy. For two, the kind of boxing experiences you will want to relive forever.
'The day before the boxing even started we came to see the venue and I was the first person to see the ring and they broke off the cover for me, so I got in and down on my knees and pretended what it would be like to win gold – just walking around the arena taking it in,' smiled Ogogo.
'And that first fight walking out here, the roar of the noise – that was brilliant. That first fight, I can't remember anything about it apart from feeling like I floated out, then I floated around the ring.
'It felt like my feet didn't touch the floor. The noise lifted me, elevated me, and I was just flying. It felt brilliant – so god knows what Luke Campbell feels like at the minute.
'It's been a fantastic experience and I'm a bit sad it's over, but when one thing ends another thing begins. I'm going to be best in the world one day, we'll just have to see what it's in.'