Amateur Joe Cordina travels toward an Olympic dream
Understandably, Cordina, 24, who fights in the lightweight division, is excited at the opportunity of a life time.
“I can’t wait,” Cordina told RingTV.com. “The last eight years of my life have been heading to this place. I’m going to put what I’ve learned in the last eight years into one tournament and it should bring me back the gold medal.”
Cordina estimates he’s had somewhere in the region of a 150-to-160 amateur bouts with 29 losses. He’s fought in numerous tournaments and won medals including bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and gold at the European Championships last year.
He feels his experience at the Commonwealth Games, in particular, have helped prepare him for the enormity of the Summer Games.
“The Commonwealth Games is a similar set-up. You have a village; it’s a multi-sport tournament but the Olympics is 10 times bigger than the Commonwealth Games. It’s just unreal,” he said. “I know that because I went to London as part of the ambition program; we got to go in the village and see how everything is and to get the feel for things because we were favorites to go to this Olympics.
“It’s easy to get sucked into the hype and what’s going on around you but, like I said, I’ve got that experience of going there and see how it all is. It’s a massive tournament.”
The Welshman won his berth on the squad for the Olympics by beating David Joyce in the European qualifier in Samsun, Turkey, in April.
During competition, Cordina hopes to get one over on his amateur nemesis Robson Conceicao, who has twice beaten him, most recently in the quarterfinals of the World Championships last year in Doha.
“There’s one person I would like to beat and it would be the Brazilian Robson Conceicao,” he explained. “It’s in Brazil, so you’ve got to be careful where you draw him. I’d love to get him out the way, first fight. We’ve got a bit of a rivalry. He’s beaten me twice before; both of them were close fights. I thought I nicked the last one but I didn’t get it. He’s quite arrogant, so I’d love to send him home early.”
Cordina will spend a lot of time with good friend and roommate Qais Ashfaq in Rio. He also hopes to watch some of the other events, though that depends on his and the team’s boxing schedule, as he intends to cheer on his teammates.
He knows the enormity of the opportunity he has in front of him could change his life dramatically.
“My life could be thrown upside down; it’s mad to think,” he said. “My girlfriend said last night, ‘You’re going away for so long,’ from her and the baby. I said, ‘You’ve got to think these four weeks out of our life and these four weeks can potentially change our lives.’ Before you know it, it’s all gone. I could come back with nothing and we carry on the same as we are but if she lets me get on with it then I could potentially change our lives for the better and give them whatever they want.”
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