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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 02 November 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 NOVEMBER 2019 27 SPORT Singing boxer, hitting the high notes Greek boxing champ Antonia Konstantopoulou, a winner in life! ALEX ANYFANTIS Not many people can achieve what Antonia Konstantopoulou, 26, has done. It was only a short while ago that she was dealing with the heavy loss of her father, Giorgos, with whom she had a very close relationship. And yet, within just six months, she has gone on to win the Australian Boxing Championship and was recently included among the eight best in the world. In her interview with Neos Kosmos, her strength and fortitude in the face of adversity are apparent; her painful experience has helped her push on in the realisation that life is short as she sets her sights on even greater goals. Antonia spoke about the Women's World Boxing Championship that was held in Ulan-Ude of Russia, but also what things were like before the tournament. "We initially spent two weeks in Germany near Berlin for a training camp. We would train with athletes from other national teams, so we had the opportunity to spar with girls from our division and get a feeling for what the competition would be like on the world stage." she said. "A few of the girls that were there and were in my category (54 kgs) went on to do really well in the competition, so if we had moved on the odds of facing each other would've been high." When talking about what her life was like before the tournament, Antonia points out that even though things were difficult, her determination is what got her through it all: "You need to be at peak physical and technical condition. So it was important to follow my schedule. I would do my sparring, go out running every morning, some days I would have two training sessions, some days three... Sure, the temptations were there. My friends would always ask me to go out for drinks with them and I was rarely available. And even if I did, I would rarely drink. There would be times when I would see them drinking and I would think 'it would be nice to have one right now...' but I get rewarded through what I do and I really enjoy these few days af- ter the games where I get to take some time off training, it's really good for me," the boxing champion says. Going into the difficult topic of her father's loss and how she was able to overcome it to be crowned champion of Australia, Antonia's strength of character becomes apparent. "It wasn't easy. The truth is that I considered distancing myself from the sport and taking a few days or months to myself. But it was my instinct that told me to go to the gym and take it one day at a time," she says." So I started training, every day was difficult but on the other hand being there helped me, like I was on auto-pilot. It's like I wasn't even there, my body was but my mind was somewhere else. It definitely helped me get my mind off things. Now, six months down the line, it still isn't easy, but I've been able to see things from a different perspective. I know he's still with me, I never talk as if he isn't. This is something that everyone goes through in their own way." On the road to success, Antonia has had the support of many people, but none have been as passionate as her sister, Elina, who she describes as "her greatest fan". "We're really close! Sometimes she gets more excited with my accomplishments than I do! If I didn't have Elina, the truth is that I have no idea where I would be since she's the one that's helped me the most ever since I was 13-years-old. She's only three years older, but she always operates like a big sister," Antonia says. "She's like my manager. And she's always been supportive, always helpful, whatever I need I turn to her. We're more like really close friends." Apart from boxing, Antonia has another passion that she also shows the same level of dedication towards: music. And even though her obligations in the sporting field may take up most of her time, she will always find a way to take advantage of her inspiration. "I always find time to write (song lyrics), when I'm at home or even now when I was at the World Championships. I even wrote a song on the plane! I took with me an empty notebook and decided that I was going to use this specifically for my new album, because if you see my room, I have hundreds of papers all over the place full of song lyrics, it's a total mess!" says Antonia, the lyricist. The young athlete draws inspiration from all the positive things that happened to her and all the new things she saw around her. "It was the vibe I got. I tried to use everything that was going on at that time, which a few years back I only considered as a dream," Antonia says. "So I saw that I can accomplish anything I dream of if I put my mind to it and that came out on the paper. There were many other things that pushed me towards this direction." Her next goal now is the 2020 Asian-Oceania Olympic Qualification Pre-Selection Event that will take place in Melbourne between 4 and 7 December 2020, although as she admits, that's not something that was originally in her plans. "We were mostly aiming for the next Olympics (2024) truth be told. But after everything that's happened, the Australian Championships, the World Championship, all of these experiences, it's definitely worth giving it a shot!" But no matter what happens, Antonia seems to understand that it's not the destination that's important, but how you get there. "My hopes are based on boxing and singing, but also around my family. To have them close to me as I accomplish my dreams. I would like to achieve something great in the sport like a medal, but that's not everything. It's what you do beforehand and how you live your everyday life, which is why I want to continue with my songwriting. I can't imagine my life without those two things, music and boxing," she says. In closing, the young champion sends her best wishes to all those who have shown her support in her efforts, hoping that she can continue to inspire them as they have inspired her to become a greater athlete and a better person. Antonia Konstantopoulou seems like an infinite source of positive energy. The Australian boxing champion during her visit to the NK offices. The young athlete was featured among the final eight in the recent Women’s Boxing World Championships of Ulan-Ude.
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