Papua New Guinea’s only judo athlete to qualify for an Olympic Games, Raymond Ovinou, will step on to the mat tomorrow to face his Canadian opponent Antoine Bouchard. It will be the first bout in the round of 64 in the Men’s under 66kg category.
Bouchard is ten years Ovinou’s junior, but despite the difference in age, knows that he will be up against a world-class opponent. The Canadian has been a consistent performer on the international scene including finishing first at the Pan American titles in 2015. He took up Judo at the age of five and trains with the Judo Club Jonquiere in Canada.
Ovinou on the other hand proudly represents his Gereka Judo Club where he not only trains but assists in the coaching of junior athletes.
In the lead-up to the Rio Olympics, Ovinou spent time in Japan preparing for the Games, however this time was cut short with the passing of his father less than a month before the Games.
Rio is Ovinou’s second Olympics after taking part in the London 2012 Olympics. He first represented PNG at the 2003 Pacific Games in Fiji and has been PNG’s most consistent Judoka through the years.
Coach, Richard Glied said, “Raymond needs to control the grip from the beginning especially against Bouchard who is a left sided fighter. We have been working on this in training along with Raymond’s special uchi-mata technique which we hope he will be able to pull off tomorrow.”
The soft-spoken Ovinou said, “I am looking forward to doing my best for PNG. Hopefully through my performance, more Papua New Guineans will take up the sport.”
Ovinou will take the mat at 10:00am on Sunday the 7th of August Rio time (11:00pm Sunday PNG Time).