Ajmal Faisal - Just Reaching The Games Was a Victory
Ajmal Faisal, Afghanistan's sole boxer at the Olympics, said just getting to London for the Games had been a triumph after he lost in the first round here on Monday.
The 21-year-old was well beaten 22-9 by experienced French flyweight Nordine Oubaali but said opposition from Taliban insurgents and a dearth of facilities in Afghanistan had severely hampered his ability to train.
"I lived outside Kabul, but I couldn't train sometimes because there is a lot of opposition within the Taliban and other political parties that actually oppose us training," he said.
"We are not allowed to train as freely as we would like to."
Faisal, well-backed by a crowd who chanted his name throughout and cheered every time he landed a punch, said he received virtually no aid at all.
"There are not enough facilities and I have to pay for my own equipment and training, it costs me 80 to 90 Afghani rupees per session to train."
Faisal, who improved as the bout wore on and pummelled Oubaali with a couple of beautiful combinations in the final round, said his dream of competing at the Games had been salvaged by a training camp provided by amateur boxing's governing body, the AIBA.
"The training that was held in Cardiff for two months enabled me to compete and last for three rounds against a very tough opponent," he said.
Oubaali, who was a world bronze light-flyweight medallist in 2007, said he had not dared to drop his frenetic pace throughout the clash.
"It was a very physical fight, sometimes I was afraid the way he lowered his head he would cut me," said the 25-year-old.
"He boxed like he had nothing to lose and that is why I didn't dare allow myself to take a breather throughout the bout.
"To do that can be fatal as it allows them (the opponent) to believe they can win and all they need is a lucky punch."