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Young Gambian Judo Star Keeping His Olympic Dream in Sight

Koga practicing with friend

At just 17, Koga Paziaud already has a collection of medals that is the envy of many in his sport.

Starting judo at the age of six, Koga has since won 7 gold, one silver and one bronze medals in both national and international competitions. Currently the vice champion in Africa, Koga is ranked 5th in the cadet category of the World Judo ranking.

Born to a Gambian mother and French father, Koga started practicing judo at the age of six. He was inspired by his father Paziaud Luc, a retired judoka.

Training six days a week at the Judo club de coulomeir in France, Koga said he loved the competition, the skills and the physical conditioning associated with the sport.

       Koga wins 2nd place in African Cadet Championship

“It is important for me to keep having a level of success and achieving to keep me on track for my goal of one day reaching the Olympics,” he said.

“Any defeat I see it as a lesson to help me learn and improve from.”

Koga took his judo seriously since the age of 10, and has then been participating in the Senegalese junior judo championships. “My dad introduced me to Judo because I had a keen preference for martial arts. From the very first day I stepped into the dojo, I felt good about it. What judo taught me is discipline, Koga tells The Chronicle.

Judo is certainly not the most popular sport in The Gambia, but it is steadily gaining momentum in the country according to Koga. “We have some nice role models who compete at the highest level for The Gambia which keeps me going and working hard. However, the first thing I learned about judo is how to prevail over such challenges. Judo has taught me how to overcome these and through the sport, I tackle any setback that comes along with competing at the highest level,” he says.

Koga wins Cadet championship

Meanwhile, the development of judo in The Gambia has been over the years hampered by administrative issues. It could be recalled that The Gambia has qualified just one judoka, Alex Faye Njie for the men’s lightweight category (73 kg) at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, signifying the nation’s Olympic debut in the sport.

Faye has now become the Gambia’s most recognized judoka with an international reputation built on success registered recently in Africa and Europe.

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