Anthony Ogogo: Road to London 2012
After four years, umpteen rounds of boxing and enough ups and downs to fill a theme park, Boxing Futures’ favourite Anthony Ogogo finally booked his place at London 2012 last month. The Lowestoft man battled bad luck and injury to be able to spend his summer in London’s East End representing Team GB in the middleweight division of the biggest sporting tournament on the planet. We caught up with the newest member of the Olympic team to talk about his quest for glory.
Anthony, how much of a relief was it to finally book your place at the Olympics?
It was a massive relief! Don’t get me wrong the feeling of qualifying for the Olympics was amazing but the year I've had has just been so traumatic. I’ve had more downs than anything with the injury, struggling to get myself back, and then dealing with the pressure of time constraints. But I'm just really excited now, and want to crack on and win a medal.
Is it the same injury that kept you from going to Beijing in 2008?
Its the same injury but on the other shoulder. Your shoulder is made up of a ball and socket, and unluckily my sockets were really big so the ball had more space to move around in there. But the surgeons have gone in and made my shoulder capsule smaller and tighter so my arms fit a lot more snugly and don't move around as much. Now I've got normal people's shoulders so hopefully I shouldn't have any more problems with them.
Was there a point during all your bad luck with injuries that you thought you wouldn’t make the Olympics?
I didn’t let that get into my head. Don’t get me wrong; the first week after my shoulder operation, I was in so much pain l was literally living on painkillers. Every time you sneeze your body goes into spasms and normally you don’t feel them but when your shoulder is that sore its agony. I sneezed one time and it was so painful I nearly cried. When I was sitting there, I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t train, I couldn’t do anything; that was the hardest. There were times when I fought this is going to be a hard hard journey back but not once did I not think I wouldn’t qualify just because it means that much to me. It was a big test of my mental strength and character to stay focused, I just thought about the Olympics every single day and luckily I’ve managed to get there.
You failed to fight in the finals of the European qualifiers after booking your place at the Olympics – what happened?
Because I had such a big operation on my shoulder I should have had six months to a year to heal properly but I’ve had to turn that into four months so I could make London 2012. There were only two spaces left in my weight to qualify so in order to book my place I had to get to the final of the European qualifiers. I had a tough fight in my quarter-final against a Georgian, the biggest test since my operation and the shoulder was a bit sore afterwards. I still managed to box and beat the Belarusian kid in the semis. Then while I was warming up ready to box the Turk in the final, I felt a quite painful pull in the back of my shoulder when I hit the pads. The physios and team doctor saw the pain I was in and didn't think it was worth the risk as I could have worsened it for what was in effect a dead rubber match as we had both already qualified.
Is your shoulder a worry for the summer then?
We’re all hoping that I’m going to be 100 percent the best I’ve ever been and I’m sure I will. I managed to qualify with my arm still not right; I’ve now got over three months to get it perfect so I’ve got plenty of time. I’ve already gone back to the gym and started working hard on my whole strength and conditioning. I’m certain I’ll be ready for the five fights to required to win a gold medal.
Are you counting down the days till the Opening Ceremony?
I’m just taking it one day at a time, just thinking about the day I’m in and its not until I finish that day’s training that I think about tomorrow. I feel like if I look after today and do as much as I possibly can then I’ll be alright tomorrow. If I do the same the next day and the next day then when the Olympics come round I’ll know there’s nothing more I could have done. I can look at myself in the mirror and know I gave it my all. I gave myself the best possible chance to win a medal and that’s all I can do.
Do you know where your digs will be?
Obviously we’ll be in the village but we don’t really know anything about that. We’re so used to boxing in all these countries where there’s such a massive culture shock so to not to have to worry about the big phone bill at the end of the month or to be able to go down to the newsagent and pick up the newspaper in the morning is going to be such a great feeling – to be able to enjoy the small luxuries you miss when you’re away.
Who do you most look forward to seeing around the Olympic village?
I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about that but I’m a massive Olympics fan, I know all the athletes and champions past and present. I would love to meet Usain Bolt, and have a chat with him in the canteen area or something. Michael Phelps would be great to bump into. The GB football team, I’d love to speak to them and change shirts. Obviously I’d love to see all the big names but when I go to the Olympics I’m going there to win a medal I’m not going there to get autographs and pictures so I’ll have my serious head on.
Have you managed to have a word with any of our past Olympians about what’s in store yet?
I would love to speak to James DeGale and Amir Khan, people that have been there and done it. The knowledge they’ve got, they’ve been there, and they’ve dealt with the pressure. The pressure of a home Olympics is going to be even greater so if I can get tips of James and Amir and people like that would be fantastic. When the Games get a bit closer and the excitement picks up a bit I’ll be reaching out to a couple of them and hopefully have a chat.
So what’s the schedule like from now till the biggest sporting event in the world?
I won’t box again now until the Olympics so I’m just focusing on really getting good strength in my body and in my shoulders. I’ve got 12 weeks to get myself in the best condition possible and we’ve got a lot of countries coming over to train with us. It’s also just about trying to control the excitement at the minute. It’s going to be hard work, really hard work, but I’m just trying to tick all the boxes I have to, to win a medal.