After winning two gold and three silver medals at last week's African championships in Tunis, Wajdi Bouallegue of Tunisia told IG that success in front of his home crowd has boosted his confidence for this summer's Olympic Games.
Wajdi Bouallegue (Tunisia)
"I'm very happy with the floor and vault gold medals because many fans were expecting me to be the in the pole position, so I thank them for their immense support," said Bouallegue, who has won the African title on floor exercise six times since 2000. "Secondly I demonstrated that I'm the king of floor in the history of the African continent. I'm really proud."
Bouallegue, who placed second all-around to Egypt's Mohammed El Saharty in Tunis, said competing well there was also a source of validation as he prepares for his second Olympic start in London.
"I had a strong feeling to honor my country," said the 30-year-old Bouallegue, who competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and is the only Tunisian gymnast qualified for London. "For Tunisians, I was confident because I have always been an example of a serious gymnast for them, so it was my job to prove that I deserve this honorific place. It was not easy but I am working hard for that, especially in this Olympic year."
Bouallegue said he is now shifting his aim to London, where he intends to make a strong impact on floor exercise, his best event. He has won several World Cup medals on the event, including the title at the 2007 Ghent World Cup.
"The London Olympics is absolutely a different job," he told IG. "I will focus on my floor exercise routine. I feel really confident about that, and I look to be ready to take part in the floor final."
Read "Tenacious Tunisian," an in-depth interview with Bouallegue, in the March 2012 issue of International Gymnast magazine. To order back issues, click here.