Botswana’s Olympic new entrant Gavin Mogopa was reduced to a mere spectator after suffering a shock first round defeat in the men’s Olympic Judo on Saturday in Brazil’s capital Rio de Jeneiro.
Mogopa, who is under the guidance of Sensei Kingsley Segokotlo, made history by becoming the first Motswana Judoka to qualify for summer Olympics.
He was pitted alongside a pool of 35 Judokas across the world battling for the honors in under 60kg category, but his hopes were cut short by the pint-sized Czech Republic’s Pavel Petrikov who beat him 110 for 0.
In a post match interview in Rio, Mogopa said he was wary of the threat that his opponent was posing in terms of physical fitness and experience wise.
“He was physically fit and I knew it was going to be a tough fight. He was strong to an extent that I could not even get close to him to grip him down and he used my momentum because when I was trying to attack, he pushed me back so easily and threw me instantly which earned him so many points. I tried my best to match him physically but I failed. He was too strong and perhaps his body structure scared me from the beginning and that is the only mistake I believe I made,” he said.
Following his experience against a shorter opponent, Mogopa said he now intends to move to an upper category that favors his height.
“I think I am too tall for this category. My opponent was too short and it favored him because he used every technique that was suitable for him. For me to do well in an upper category I should also lose weight as well,” Mogopa explained.
Concerning his first appearance at the Olympics, the 20 year old had this to say, “I had goose bumps when I walked towards the mat because of the crowd and the standard of the competition. I was a bit nervous but my coach told me to relax and do my Judo and forget about the spotlight,” he added.
He however said he was happy to have gained the much needed experience of the world’s biggest sporting event (Olympics) and he deemed the experience as a learning curve and vowed to come back stronger and better in Tokyo 2020.
For his part, Mogopa’s Coach, Sensei Segokotlo said he is of the view that his athlete did fairly well considering the fact that he lost to a professional athlete who is 30 years old and well experienced.
“From here, I will be working hand in hand with Botswana Judo Federation (BJF) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) to come up with a better master plan on preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. I hope he will get a scholarship that will help him better his performance in countries that are Judo orientated,” Sensei Segokotlo concluded.