With the reschedule Tokyo Olympic Games in the home stretch, one very important tournament that has both continental and global prestige is the African Judo senior championship coming up in Dakar later this month.
Gambia will fill three fighters in Abdourahman Ceesay, Omar Jobe and Olympian Faye Njie. With array of experience, all three fighters have similar goals of winning medal for The Gambia. However Finland based Gambia Faye Njie has bigger ambition.
"My qualification situation looks pretty good at the moment. I'm currently holding a continental quota spot and there are just 2 qualifying events left. This includes African championships," said Faye.
"My first aim is to improve my previous result from Rio 2016 and secondly of course my biggest dream is to bring home the first medal ever from the Olympics," the 2015 African Games bronze medalist said.
He added that he has been training extremely hard for the past few weeks. "I recently fought in one qualifying tournament in Russia which worked as a final preparing event for the upcoming championships. In that tournament I was able to win one very strong Italian opponent so I feel confident towards Dakar now," he further said.
Covid-19 has retard so many international sporting events and Njie is not an exception.
"The Covid-19 situation got worse in UK and I decided to move back to Finland and do my preparation there as the training facilities in the UK were forced to close and my university lectures went online. Therefore, I was better able to combine these things in Finland," he also said.
The Dakar outing could be a turning point for the athlete and he is optimistic for a podium finish.
"I have done a lot of scouting and trying to solve the mistakes I made in the past against my main African rivals. I feel confident and I believe I have learned from my mistakes. My aim is to reach the podium. This could also secure my continental quota spot for the Olympics," he concluded.
Young and very ambitious home based Abdourahman Ceesay was part of Gambian contingent at the 2019 African Games. It was not the outing the fighter work for, but now this is a chance and he want to make history.
"I will face the best judokas in Africa. I am going to fight with all my heart. I am aware that this is definitely not going to be easy but my goal is to make good results and make Gambia proud," he said.
The president of The Gambia Judo Association, Timothy Colley sound very optimistic ahead of the continental showdown.
"I am very optimistic that we will have some good results in Senegal. This is the first time our senior national team is coming together, and will fight under different categories. Success no doubt awaits us by the grace of God," Colley said.
"Unfortunately only one athlete will make it to the Olympics. However, a new dawn has emerged and paves the way for more qualifications in the upcoming Judo international tournaments," he added.
The African Judo senior championship will serve off from the 18th through the 24th May 2021 in Dakar, Senegal.