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Szogedi gutted after early exit

Sandra Szogesi bettles Brazilian Mariana Silva (right)

Ghana’s Szandra Szogedi is gutted that after four years of dreaming and preparing for the 2016 Olympics, her dream has fizzled out after less than two minutes on the mats.

Last Tuesday, Szogedi lost to Brazil’s Mariana Silva on Tuesday in the Women’s 63kg Judo event at the Rio Games.

“I’m just really gutted that I made a mistake and now it is all over,” an almsot in tears Szogedi, 27-year-old, Ghana's first female judoka to compete at the Olympic Games said.  

She is one of the 16 athletes representing Ghana at the Games in Brazil and has joined the casuality list following swimmer, Kaya Forson’s exit from her 200m freestyle event last Monday.

Szogedi, who earned Ghanaian citizenship by marriage, competed for Ghana five years ago and her qualification for the Olympic Games was secured in Kazakhstan last May and was hoping to make the most of the opportunity.

However, the fight draw was not kind as her first fight was against a home athlete. 

 Szogedi and her coach knew it would be a tricky fight in front of a partisan crowd and in preparation, had focused on refining Szogedi’s attacking style.

Although Szogedi relentlessly attempted to grip Silva’s uniform, she got caught in a stranglehold after Silva took her to the ground. Szogedi was determined not to submit, until she started to lose her vision.

“I felt like I was going to pass out and then I had to tap,” she said. A tearful Szogedi said afterward that training four years for less than two minutes on the mat was devastating. 

“You might be focusing on gripping but if you’re not paying attention the next thing you know they can catch you in some other technique and it might be all over,” she said. “That’s just how judo is.”

After qualifying for Rio, Szogedi said she had a clear target of taking home a medal and wasn’t sure she would be up for the Tokyo Games. After the disappointment on Tuesday, however, Szogedi said she may have to reconsider her plans.

“Being up there on the mat at the Olympics was priceless,” she said. “Athletes are greedy. That minute and a half after all the years of training wasn’t enough.”

Szogedi’s opponent, Silva, advanced to the semifinals, giving Brazil its second shot at a judo gold medal in as many days.