Despite picking up an injury in her first bout, Nigeria Judoka, Franca Audu (52kg) feels satisfied winning the bronze medal at the 2023 African Judo Open in Niamey.
The multiple national champion revealed that her intention was to win a gold medal for the country with her level of fitness and preparedness.
Audu expressed appreciation to her family, friends, coaches as well as teammates for their unwavering support and encouragement.
“In every situation we must give thanks to God Almighty. First of all, with all sincerity of heart I appreciate God for granting me the grace and ability to win the bronze medal”, Audu told www.aclsports.com
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She continued, “I appreciate my family, coach, teammates, loved ones and well wishers for their support and encouragement; It went a long way. It feels so great and super exciting to be on the podium again outside Nigeria after a long time; God is faithful I must confess and hard work pays”.
Audu, however spoke about the injury recurrence which brought a huge setback on her challenge for the gold medal at the championship adding that she went with the intent of winning gold for Nigeria at the 2023 judo African Open.
“Despite the fact I got injured just when I was about to enjoy the moment, I am glad I still scaled through in my worst moment”.
“Going through the chart I said to myself the gold is for Nigeria but to my greatest surprise I got injured barely one minute into my first bout. Of course, giving up at that moment like that wasn’t an option at all.
“It was a must win bout for me as that determined my fate in the competition bearing in mind the chances of getting the gold for us. I got to the semi finals then the injury became worse.
“At that point, I couldn’t even lift my shoulder off the mat any more and so I gave up finally and that was the end of the semi finals and I knew I could not get the gold medal. With bandaged shoulders went for the bronze bout and won finally; at least half bread they say is better than none.
“The injury stopped me from getting a gold medal because my opponent’s techniques couldn’t get my back to touch the ground. A few minutes fighting on the mat but maybe it wasn’t in God’s plan for me to win Gold this time, and I am still grateful because it has been Him all the while and He has a perfect plan for me.”
The 2022 National Sports Festival Champion said some pundits had contrary opinions on her selection to the African Open in Niamey.
She said, “A lot of people did not believe in my capability to deliver a medal and felt I should not be part of the team at the Open. I took it upon myself to prove them wrong and it somewhat gave me a positive drive. The stones they throw at me, I made a bridge out of it than wallow in fear.
“I am a true image of God’s creation and that makes me a champion. I was ready, and fully prepared psychologically and physically; whatever it was I didn’t perceive as pressure but motivation to push through as always.
“I am a go-getter, and still very strong and active; I do not give room for complacency and laziness and that has kept me going and giving results. My past records have been a big motivation for me, you know being at the peak of your career and trying to maintain that isn’t easy if one isn’t committed, consistent, and focused. I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.
“At every stage in life’s journey, when once man climbs the ladder of success; it becomes inherent in him to grow more, achieve more, and do more.
“To me the journey to greatness has just begun, and I can’t wait to unravel the super package in stock for me. I am optimistic about great opportunities and I trust God to always give out my best”. She affirmed.
On the way forward, Audu said she would treat the injury and get prepared for another championship lined up for the year.
“After this African Open, the next thing is to treat the injury I sustained first and get back to business (training) because there are other championships lined up before the end of the year. I hope Nigeria attends; I don’t want to be caught unaware”, She added.