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Faye Alex Njie: pioneer of Gambia’s Olympic debut in Judo

Jul 26, 2016, 11:23 AM

The Gambia has qualified one judoka for the men’s lightweight category (73 kg) at the Games, signifying the nation’s Olympic debut in the sport.

Faye Njie earned a continental quota spot from the African region as the only Gambian judoka in the IJF World Ranking List of May 30, 2016.

Born on 23 November 1993, the Finland-based Gambian Judoka, on 13 September 2015 became the first Gambian judo fighter to win a silver medal in the history of the All Africa Games (AAG).

The son of Ebrima Njie of Njaba Kunda of the North Bank Region, Alex did not think twice before choosing to wear the Gambian flag, despite a lot of pressure from other countries.

The 22-year-old, who fought in the 73kg category without a coach on the sidelines, opened his All Africa Games 2015 account with a win over the Congolese champion within three minutes of the maximum five minutes.

The son of a former black belt holder in karate proceeded to the second round, defeating his Ivorian opponent.

In the quarterfinals, Alex squared up against a UK-based Ghanaian champion and defeated him in acrobatic style in two seconds to the amazement of all spectators.

The Finland-based Gambian then proceeded to the semifinals where he defeated the Mozambique champion.

In the finals of the competition held at the newly-built Talangai Indoor Sports Complex, the young Gambian hero, who had become the darling of the crowd, lost to the Egyptian champion.

He is undoubtedly Gambia Judo’s most recognisable judoka with an international reputation built on success registered recently in Africa and Europe.

Presently on a training camp in Italy under Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) Scholarship, Faye Alex Njie won a bronze medal at the European Cup Seniors in Bratislava on 9 July 2016 putting his preparation on a sound footing.

A double Polish U-21 Champion in U73 and U66 Kgs, Faye Njie has been sponsoring himself at the beginning of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifiers before the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) stepped in to finance all his competitions and refunded him.

The Gambia will be among the 116 countries qualified for the Judo event at this year’s Summer Olympic Games, as a new record has been established.

In total 40 European nations have at least one qualified athlete. Europe is leading; Africa has 24 qualified nations, Asia 21, Pan America 21 and Oceania 10.