Sofia Olafsson needs no introduction in the IFMA world, having competed at IFMA events for the last four years, events which she considers to be the top level, most challenging tournaments in the world of muaythai.
With a strong belief in the importance of the Athletes’ Entourage, Sofia considers the sport of muaythai in essence a “Team Sport”, as she places great significance on the team behind her, her coaches and support system.
After reading her interview with IFMA there is no doubt that you will see that it is this athlete’s passion, determination and respect for all the aspects of the sport which has taken her to the top of her game to claim the Queen’s Trophy at the recent 2015 Royal World Cup in Bangkok and being the first to qualify in her division to compete at The World Games 2017 under IOC Patronage.
IFMA: How long have you been training Muaythai and what made you want to fight?
I have been training Muaythai for about 8 years. The reason why I compete is that I love the feeling to be in the ring and to test my skill against another person. That’s the best feeling in the world.
I really like the adrenaline rush I get when you compete, the build up to it and the moment when you step over the ropes for the competition.
IFMA: What do you believe to be your strongest asset in the ring?
My strongest sides is that my team and I always have a plan for each fight which I follow, and I listen to my coaches in between rounds, plus that I am really strong. This is what I really like about Muaythai. Even the competition is an individual sport but in reality it’s a team sport where so many people are a part of the preparation.
What has been your biggest challenge as a fighter?
My biggest challenges now are the IFMA tournaments. Female Muaythai has become really popular. The competition in Sweden, so much more challenging and the IFMA World Championships are truly something special. So many great athletes.
Your hardest fight and why?
My toughest opponent was Natalia Dyachova from Russia. She is very good and hits very hard! She was by far my hardest opponent even though I beat her in the European Championship last year.
My proudest moment in Muaythai was this summer when I won the Royal World Cup in Bangkok. It was an amazing experience such a high level when I won the semi-final only one fight away from receiving the trophy donated by Her Majesty the Queen and book in my place for the World Games 2017 competing in the future event under the patronage of the IOC. When I got my medal and the Swedish anthem played, it was a feeling which I have never experienced.
What do you think is the most important thing to remember as a fighter?
It is very important that even if we fight against our opponents in the ring that we respect and honour them outside the ring and that we honour the sport of Muaythai and our coaches. Respect plays such an important part in our sport, the culture elements performing the Wai Kru, respecting my family, my coaches, my opponent and then the competition. Of course also to have fun when we are competing.
If you could rematch anyone you have fought who would it be and why?
I have an opponent that I lost to in the IFMA World Championship Malaysia. She was from Russia and her name was Oksana. I would very much like to face her again with the right plan and my coach Lex by my side. I feel I have improved so much in the 12 months and have learned from my mistakes. Sadly she has retired for now but you never know.
Any embarrassing moments?
No, there isn’t anything I can think of. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. There is no embarrassing in our sport as we have a strong code of ethics, respect for another, win or lose.
Describe your daily diet from breakfast to dinner.
I eat breakfast in the morning that is oatmeal or yogurt with granola. Lunch usually chicken or turkey with avocado and rice and for dinner usually the same as lunch with some fruits in between meals.
How long have you been competing at IFMA events? How do you feel being part of it?
I have competed in IFMA tournaments now for four years, and I love it. Every event you can see the improvement from the last one. The level of fighting is improving year by year. There is no discrimination of genders and to be part of one of the strongest teams in the world, Sweden. There is an unbelievable team spirit. It’s a true experience traveling the world with your friends representing your country.
What are your plans for the rest of your fighting career?
My future plan is to win as much as I possibly can! One of my biggest goals is to win World Combat Games and the World Games. Both events are under the 5 Olympic rings and the closest our sport will come to the Olympic Games at the moment. Next year, Sweden is hosting the World championships and I hope to be part of the team represent my country and hopefully winning a medal in my home soil. I also would like to compete for WMC World title.
Have you thought about your after career?
Muaythai is my life. At the moment I feel strong and fit to stay at the highest competitive level. We never know where life takes us, especially health wise, but one thing is for sure I would like to stay involved in the sport so after my career I can still continue to contribute to the sport.
How do you feel about winning the IFMA Royal World Cup?
To win the Royal World Cup was a dream come true for me. I have always wanted to win a big tournament and winning the gold medal and the trophy donated by Her Majesty the Queen given to the best female athlete is truly a dream come true. I have worked so hard for this and spent many hours in the gym and on the track running and training. The same with my trainer, Lex. It is so very gratifying to see all that work give me the Gold medal. I can’t put to words how much that meant to me.
How do you see yourself?
I definitely want to see myself as a role model. I hope young people can look up to me and see that hard work pays off if you set your mind to it! Yes it’s hard and tiresome but the reward comes when you stand in the ring and the referee holds your hand up showing everyone that you are the winner! Losing is also part of the game. It’s about continuing, believing in yourself and that you cannot be the winner every day. If I had quit after my lost in Malaysia, instead of learning from the lost and becoming stronger, I never would be crowned the champion in Bangkok.
Any advice to anyone wanting to start training or fighting Muaythai?
My advice is even when you train hard and spend many hours in the gym don’t forget to have fun. If you have fun everything gets easier and you will perform better. It’s about making friends, be a part of the sport family and team.
Any last words? Or people you would like to Thank?
I am very grateful to be able to compete in the IFMA tournaments and to get the award for best female boxer in the royal world cup. I am also very grateful to be part of the Swedish national team. We have such an amazing team surrounding the boxers, coaches, doctors, staff and captains. You really feel special when you are part of such a great team and I also can’t tell how much I am blessed for having my number one trainer Lex by my side. He makes me better and better all the time. Without him I would not have been where I am today. Then I would also like to thank my gym “Odenplan fight gym”. They let me be the fighter I love to be and their support is the best!
Last but not least, my wonderful boyfriend Markus that supports and believes in me. He helps me with everything. He is the best.