Former British boxer Anthony Ogogo says it took him a long time to accept his Olympic bronze medal after a harrowing build-up to London 2012.
Ogogo’s mother almost died from a brain haemorrhage just six weeks before the Games, derailing his focus and fitness ahead of his bid for gold on home soil.
The 31-year-old was speaking to Orla Chennaoui as part of Eurosport’s Return to London 2012 week, an eight-episode series telling the incredible tales of Team GB’s stars through the eyes of the athletes themselves.
Watch Return to London 2012 on Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player from May 24-31
"Six weeks before the Olympic Games my sister called me. I was up in Sheffield with the GB team. She said to me, 'Anthony, get home now. Mum is about to die.' And my heart just sunk," Ogogo said.
"I got in the car, drove home and she was in hospital on a life support machine. I had to beg the doctor not to turn off the life support machine because he wanted to turn it off. He said there was nothing else that can be done for her.
"After half an hour of begging and pleading they agreed to send her to Addenbrooke – a specialist head unit in Cambridge – and I was there by her side for the next four weeks.
"I didn’t do a sit-up, didn’t do a punch, anything. And then my sisters and my then girlfriend – now my wife – kind of guilt-tripped me a little bit.
"They said, 'If Mum’s going to get better from this illness...' and at the time it was touch and go whether she was going to live or not, none of us thought she was going to get better '…when she gets better she’s going to feel awful knowing that you didn’t do the Games because of her.' Because she knew what it meant to me."
‘I had to do the Olympics’ – Ogogo on his 2012 turmoil and a month spent by his mum's hospital bed
Ogogo returned to Sheffield for a fleeting training camp but immediately suffered another setback.
"I had one week of training left before the Olympics started," he said.
"My only sparring session was with Fred Evans who went on to win the silver in London. I threw a slow sloppy jab, the first punch I’d thrown in a month, he slipped out threw a hook to the body and broke my rib.
"I sat there, at the edge of the ring after that spar, thinking ‘oh my goodness.’ I had a bad shoulder, torn Achilles tendons which I’d later need four surgeries on, a broken rib, and worst of all I thought my mum was going to die and I was never going to see her again."
Image credit: Getty Images
Ogogo impressed in reaching the middleweight semi-finals in London, knocking out the world number one, as he threatened to deliver an improbable gold.
But he had to settle for bronze after losing to Brazil’s Esquiva Florentino in the last four, watching on as Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams and Luke Campbell triumphed in other categories to become household names.
However, there was a happy ending: Ogogo's mother recovered.
"She’s made, in many doctors’ words, a miraculous recovery because the bleed on her brain should have killed her instantly," he said.
"Then when I came out of the Olympic Games she had numerous operations on her brain to keep her alive and there were moments of touch and go for months and months and months.
"And when it looked like she was going to live they said to us ‘don’t get your hopes up too much because she’s going to survive this now but she’s going to be in a really really bad way’ and then each time she kept doing better than they thought she would.
"And she learnt to write again, to walk again, learnt to make a cup of tea again, and now she’s amazing, living the best life she possibly can and she’s a complete hero and inspiration to me and my sisters."
Watch Ogogo, Gemma Gibbons and Jade Jones in the full episode on Friday May 29 at 2pm (repeated at 7pm) and catch the eight-episode series featuring British sporting royalty including Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Mo Farah and Rebecca Adlington throughout the week on Eurosport 2 and Eurosport Player