South Africa Sport: Women racking up medals in Judo
Judo is one of the oldest sports in the world. In the past, it used to be dominated by men, but now, women are representing the sport in South Africa. And after medalling at the African Championships, two women are setting an example for men across the country. CGTN's Sias du Plessis has more.
Judo in South Africa remains a Cinderella sport, only a select few manage to gain the funding to compete internationally to gain the valuable ranking points required to qualify for the Olympic Games, the country's two top-ranked women, Unelle Snyman and Michaela Whitebooi have been fortunate enough to receive the necessary support in order to fight for a place in Tokyo.
UNELLE SNYMAN AFRICA CHAMPIONSHIP SILVER MEDALIST "We don't have anything to lose so we are just moving higher up. And with the competitions, if you win one fight at a grand prix or grand slam level, it is so much point, so you will move up automatically. That is how I see it. I don't see it as a defence, but more as an attack."
Whitebooi claimed gold in the under 48kg category at the African Championships in Cape Town to shoot up into the world's top 20, a position she needs to retain to qualify for the Games, but she knows all the hard work is paying off on her judo journey.
MICHAELA WHITEBOOI AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIP GOLD MEDALIST "I feel I have definitely grown from the level that I started with here at Tuks, as a person, the values, the beliefs, the motivation, all of that came together and at this moment having the victory I could see the path I have followed."
Snyman had to settle for silver in the under 70kg category, but the Sports Psychology student isn't allowing her performance to distract her, instead, she is using it as motivation.
UNELLE SNYMAN AFRICA CHAMPIONSHIP SILVER MEDALIST "I am happy for what it is because I know it's just going to make me work harder and I think maybe I would have been a bit more comfortable if I got gold, so now it is that extra motivation to keep you going."
Head coach, Nikola Filipov, a veteran of 4 Olympic Games believes women's judo is on the rise and is being spearheaded by his two top competitors Whitebooi and Snyman.
NIKOLA FILIPOV SOUTH AFRICA HEAD COACH "They will win. I believe both of them will qualify to Olympic Games without me or with me. I will make sure to do that because this actually is my legacy. After that Olympic most probably I will have to consider staying or not."
SIAS DU PLESSIS PRETORIA "The University of Pretoria is fast becoming known as the home of South African judo, 6 of the 7 medals on offer at the African Champions were claimed by Tuks athletes and the future appears bright with Olympic qualification firmly on the cards for two of the senior medallists. Sias du Plessis, CGTN, PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA."