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SA badminton has high hopes in build-up to Rio
- Updated: March 27, 2013
Badminton South Africa is already eying the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, writes Mark Etheridge.
The code had four representatives in London last year, a men’s doubles and women’s doubles and BSA are determined to ensure representation of their code in Rio in three years time.
Reflecting on last year’s successes for local badminton, BSA president Larry Keys said: “On the High Performance side the highlight was obviously qualifying for the London Olympics. The road to qualify was difficult as the criteria were extremely tough.
“The cherry on top was qualifying outright and not through the Continental back door. On the same road we won gold in the All Africa Championships, All Africa Under-19 and the All Africa Under-15 Championships, and topped the medal table at the All Africa Games. On the World circuit we improved our world ranking in the team event by five positions ÔÇô an unprecedented success.ÔÇØ
Now the process of building for Rio has already started. BSA has several athletes in the SASCOC Elite Athlete Programme for Rio 2016: Jacob Maliekal, Andries Malan, James MacMaus, Prakash Vijayanath, Elme de Villiers and Jenni van den Berg.
BSA has identified the following athletes as athletes with a real chance to make it to the final stages of the 2016 Olympics and possibly win an Olympic medal for South Africa: Jacob Maliekal (singles) Willem Viljoen (2012 London Olympian) and Andries Malan (doubles) and 2012 London Olympians brother and sister combination Willem and Anna Viljoen (mixed doubles).
The High performance Structure has mapped out the international tournaments these athletes have to participate in so that good world ranking positions will be obtained before the 2016 qualification cycle starts.┬á Experienced international players like Stacey Doubell and Jade Morgan-Kraemer will also be given the opportunity to participate internationally and a final decision regarding their part in the BSA 2016 preparation plan will be taken in two years’ time, just before qualification starts.
Jacob Maliekal is currently training in Malaysia and Prakash Vijayanath in Ireland. It will be very interesting to follow the progress of these athletes. Badminton South Africa is sadly lacking in having a national training centre, although the BSA Board has approved the establishing of such a centre in Pretoria. Providing the necessary funding is secured, the national training centre will soon be in operation.
SASCOC is focusing on the development of local coaches. This, combined with exciting developments like long term athlete and coach development plans, will very soon bear fruits and make our athletes even more competitive on the international stage. Our badminton coaches, already in great demand in Africa will soon be in demand internationally.
The competition amongst the athletes in order to become part of the BSA 2016 preparation plan will be very tough indeed, looking at the local open tournament circuit. No athlete really dominated the Northern Gauteng Open held in Pretoria recently.