One of Nigeria’s boxing gold medallists at the 2015 All Africa Games, Efe Ajagba, reveals to Completesportsnigeria.com’s SAB OSUJI in Brazzaville, how the golden journey was undertaken as he looks ahead to next year’s Olympic Games…
Photo By Ganiyu Yusuf:
How does it feel winning a gold medal in the heavyweight class of the men’s boxing event at the All Africa Games?
I feel great, I give thanks to God and my coaches who gave us the right training before we came here. I give God the glory that our efforts have been rewarded. Yes, winning a gold medal at the All Africa Games for me is a wake-up call that I should work harder for greater challenges ahead.
Talking about greater challenges, does that mean you are already thinking about the Olympic Games in Brazil next year?
It is one thing at a time. The All Africa Games is over, so the next one I think is the Olympic Games. Of course, it is still some months away, or a year, but let’s get back home first and see what happens next. It’s all about preparations and then we see how it goes.
Which was your toughest fight before winning the gold medal?
There is no easy fight in boxing. All the fights were tough and I thank God I came out victorious with gold medal at the end.
But one would have thought your fight with Paul Schafer of South Africa was your toughest given the rivalry between the two of you or what do you think?
Schafer is a good boxer and I respect him. We met last year during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and I won. So I knew he had revenge in mind fighting me at the All Africa Games. I also knew he would be full of anger so I took things calmly. You know in boxing, technique matters. He is a good boxer and one has to be careful with any opponent, especially one you have fought before. Personally, I was happy beating him again.
What was on your mind climbing into the ring against Schafer?
I have respect for any opponent. I made sure I stayed focused and concentrated. I also made sure I didn’t make mistakes which he could exploit.
Then the final fight which gave you gold medal…
Yes, I was determined, I was also focused because anything could happen so I tried to keep him on the defensive most of the time. Yes, I have a longer reach so I had to add that that to my advantage.
Before coming to Congo, did it cross your mind you would win the gold medal?
Everybody going into a match has victory in mind. That is your target even though it is not a guarantee. You have to be positive and confident of yourself, believe in yourself and your ability. Then you try to do your best and hope that your best turns out to be good to give you victory.
How has the experience been in Congo for the All Africa Games?
It has been a nice experience. The people are nice despite the language barrier. The organisers provided excellent facilities both at the venues and at the games village. The only shortfall if I can say is the idea of having to go to the stadium morning, afternoon and night for feeding. It could have been better if there was a kitchen at the games village instead of going to the Kintele Stadium all the time. But generally, it was a good experience.
What positives would you be taking home after the Games here in Congo?
The essence of the African Games, for me, is for friendship. I think that was achieved.
What about the possible ugly sides of the Games? At least the coin has two sides.
I wouldn’t say there was any. I think we have seen a good tournament.
What about the facilities?
In terms of that, I think they did very well. What I have seen so far is world class facilities and I believe they did a good job as far as that aspect is concerned.