Consistent training is the hallmark of every successful athlete. This is true for Godwin Olofua, Nigeria’s professional badminton player who won three gold medals and was crowned the most valuable player at the 2018 West African Universities Games in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Godwin shared his journey into becoming a professional athlete with Glitzsport in a tale that can be described as exciting and fascinating:
Tell us about your sport journey?
I was into martial arts (karate) before I started playing badminton. I was very good at martial arts for my age category. I used to train at Police College in Lagos. There was a day I was going back home after training and I saw people playing badminton. I watched them play because it was fun, they were trying to prevent the shuttle cork from hitting the ground and I developed interest from there. I didn’t know that would be my career sport. I began to practice at Police College and found myself enjoying the game, I was focused and consistent. What made me realize badminton would be my career sport was when I got to a stage I could represent Nigeria at the Kumasi games in 2011, which was my first tournament outside Nigeria. I was invited to camp for the tournament and it made me feel great about myself. It was at that moment I chose badminton as my sport. Anytime we went for training, we had escorts. That was my first experience having escorts around me. Something later happened and the Ghanaian federation informed us they would not be able to host the tournament anymore and we had to be decamped. We were decamped with the sum of 10000 Naira each. That was my first cash reward in sport, it was exciting and that was when I got motivated to improve my badminton skills and learn more about the game.
What do you enjoy most about badminton?
Badminton is quite interesting; watching people playing it is fun. I enjoy playing singles, doubles and mixed doubles. Watching people play would make you want to play even if you aren’t properly dressed for the game.
What do you consider your major achievement in badminton?
My major achievement in badminton is the West African University Games (WAUG) where I represented the University of Lagos in 2018. I chose this tournament because I had to play against top players from other schools across West Africa and they were players I often meet at international tournaments. Defeating that caliber of players and winning gold in the single, doubles and mixed doubles and also becoming the most valuable player (MVP) boosted me a lot to perform in the next tournament because I had a national tournament the following week. In the national tournament I won gold in the singles and doubles. The West African University Games is my biggest achievement even though I have won other national and international tournament.
What are your short term goals as a badminton player?
In the next two years, I want to be among the top 100 of the world badminton ranking in singles and top 30 in doubles. I want to be Africa’s number 1 in singles, and remain Africa’s number 1 in doubles. I also want to be Nigeria’s number 1 in singles and remain number 1 in doubles.
What are your long term goals as a badminton player?
After achieving my short term goals, I want to play for a club abroad which I am currently working towards, and I want to own an academy abroad where I can invite young players to join.
What is your Olympic aspiration?
My aspiration is to qualify for the Olympics and the federation has been doing their best to seek for sponsorship and to make sure we attend all tournaments to qualify. We are on the verge of qualifying; we just have to maintain our points. We also have to be consistent in winning tournaments. During the lockdown I have been training consistently and maintaining fitness to achieve my aim.
What areas do you feel you need improvement on?
I need to improve my basic footwork, net shot, endurance, skills, and smashing. The kind of game I play needs endurance. My smashing is weak and I need to improve my power. I’m training every day to improve my drop shots, strokes and my confidence because you can have all these skills but without confidence, you would not be able to execute them on the court.
Do you have a personal coach?
I have two personal coaches, Coach Gregory Sylvester and Coach Victor Okundaye. Coach Sylvester is the person that introduced me to badminton; He taught me the fundamental footwork while Coach Victor Okundaye taught me the basics of badminton. Coach victor is a top coach; He trains you in the practical and theoretical aspect of badminton. He would also analyse the fundamental basics of badminton. I go to him for my personal training.
Provide details about the kind of training you engage in.
There is a general training three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I also train personally on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Saturday is for recreational games, I either play with a veteran or an active player. On Mondays, I do my doubles training and multiple shuttles. On Tuesdays, I go to Opebi, here in Lagos to jog, I also do mountain climbing, there is a hill there, I go 20 reps. I sprint 10 times also. In the evening I invite players to come to Lagos country club, where I do my private training. I do my drill training and work on areas where I lack, like my defense, smashing and strokes. On Thursdays I go to the gym, that’s what I do all day; I have a program I follow. I warm up; do my abdominal exercises and other exercises in my program. I often shuffle my exercise program every week, so I can develop every part of my body.
What do you like about training?
Training taught me consistency, hard work and sacrifice and that’s why I’m still standing. When you know you have something to achieve and you also know there are people who want to beat you and take your position, you would love training.
What don’t you like about training?
If you know what you want, you won’t dislike training. I want to be one of the best so I love training.
Do you participate in any other sport activity?
Since I am a career player, I don’t participate in any other sport except badminton. I might do it for fun, but I do not engage in any sport that requires rigorous exercise like football because it might get me injured. I also don’t play lawn tennis, because it would affect my wrist. The only sport I play for fun that develops my badminton skill is squash and table tennis. I also play volleyball and handball for fun.
Asides sports what else do you do for fun?
I love hanging out with my friends, boat riding, swimming and cooking. I really enjoy cooking.