Botswana’s flamboyant judoka Gavin Mogopa’s desires to make his second appearance at the Olympics has hit the snag after he suffered an injury at the recent Africa Judo Championships held in Senegal last month. He started his Olympics quest on a high note in 2019 in Japan where he was studying and training through the International Olympics Committee (IOC) solidarity scholarship, before his journey was interrupted by covid 19 pandemic.
The 26-year-old former Africa champion suffered a right anterior cruciate and meniscal injury that needs an arthroscopic reconstruction according to the team Doctor’s report.
This comes after he was knocked out in the 1st round of the Africa Championships that served as the Olympics qualifiers.
According to the Doctor’s report presented to the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) it states that due to this injury, the athlete must stop all his training activities and take a break of 9 months to recover from the injury after the operation. In
an interview with Gazette Sport recently Mogopa said he tried his best to qualify but the
injury was too serious and forced him to bow unexpectedly.
“I really worked hard over the years to qualify for Tokyo Olympics buts it’s unfortunate that I did not achieve my goals which is normal in sport. This injury started locally in February and forced me to withdraw from two major tournaments, and the beginning of April I started feeling a bit better and we decided to get back to training setting my eyes on the last 2 Olympics qualifiers in Russia and I got an injury again on the knee during training and this time around the pain was unbearable. Me and my coach decided that I should rest and prepare for the last competition and which I believed that I would be tactical in my fights, but the pain opposed us.” He said.
He further said that he is disappointed to have incurred an injury during this crucial period, especially when he think of the sacrifices he made to show his enthusiasm on qualifying for the Olympics which is an ultimate goal for every athlete, but he had no choice and took the doctor’s advice as he is of the view that it is for the good course.
“ it really pains me and it is hard for me, I couldn’t qualify for the games which I sacrificed a lot for and there are some competitions which I was paying for myself, I took a 5 year gap year from school trying to qualify for my second Olympics and it didn’t work out for me. Staying away from judo will be a nightmare for me because it is like my safe place in times like this where I get bad news. I have learnt a lot form this and I believe it will be a source of my strength for the next competitions once I am ready.” Mogopa added.
Mogopa qualified for his first Olympics in 2016 in Rio where he was knocked out in the 2nd round by the Czech Judoka Pavel Petrikov.
Botswana Judo National Team Coach Frank Mousima said there is a need for the athletes to have time of to recuperate so he returns on a high note more so that he is an established elite athlete.
“The boy tried his best and I applaud him for his efforts, he fought well and unfortunately
he couldn’t qualify, but there is always next time. He will return stringer than ever looking at the fact that he is still young.” He concluded.