With the Tokyo Olympics finally here, Hurshid Tojibaev shares his thoughts after competing at the Olympics on two occasions, first in 2008 in Beijing, and then in 2016 in Rio.

Can you describe what your Olympic Journey was like, and how did you feel after you were picked?

Tojibaev: “In 2007 I was number one in the youth national team of Uzbekistan in the 54kg weight category. In the same year I became the champion of Uzbekstan, and then I won 1st place in the Asian Championship, so 2007 was a very special year.

“At the Asian Championship I was awarded the title of the most technical boxer, and as a result of that the leadership of the boxing federation began to take an interest in me. The head of the Federation proposed my selection in the 54kg weight category for the Olympics.

“He called me and said that he wants to organise sparring for me against adults. Thanks to Allah, he gave me a chance to test myself among adults boxers, and with the help of Allah, I was able to do well in sparring and get a ticket to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“The experience was of course incredible. I became the youngest boxing participant in the Olympic Games for Uzbekistan. My coach and my parents were very happy for me.”

What were some of your memorable experiences at the Olympic Village?

Tojibaev: “In August 2008, we flew to Beijing and settled in the Olympic Village. Everything was organized at a professional level. Everything was done for a comfortable stay and preparation for the Olympic athletes. The opening ceremony of the Olympics was memorable too.

“In 2015 I then won a ticket to Rio de Janeiro too for the Olympics in 2016, and everything was prepared there at a professional level as well.”

What advice can you give to the Olympians traveling to Tokyo this week?

Tojibaev: “Be attentive to your health. When an athlete prepares for a competition, the body is very sensitive. Believe in yourself and be focused on winning.

“The Olympics gave me a lot of experience as an athlete and motivation for further growth in my sports career, so this is something to prepare for too.”