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Tug-of-war squad have made great strides for World Games

Today we feature the seventh in a series of pre-event stories ahead of South Africa’s campaign at the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. South Africa will be represented in nine different sporting codes. MARK ETHERIDGE looks at the chances of our tug-of-war team, a completely different beast to that of the previous games.

At the 2009 World Games in Taiwan there was no such thing as a conditioning coach for the South African women’s tug-of-war team.

The squad failed to win a contest as the all-conquering host nation of Chinese Taipei pulled all before them and the South Africans were left wide-eyed at the standard of competition.

Fast forward three years and the team secured a bronze medal at the World Championships in Scotland. Fast forward another year and they’ve got even strongerÔǪ all of which is good news for Team South Africa’s medal chances at the 2013 World Games which start in Cali, Colombia later this month.

The man entrusted with conditioning the team of eight power-pullers is John McGrath and he’ll also manage the team in Cali. An Irishman by birth, he’s been roped in for the last two years and enthuses at the team’s new found abilities.

“We’ve made big gains on both fronts in the last two years,” the Paarl-based coach told Road to Rio 2016. “The bronze medal in Scotland was proof of the ground we’ve made. Because we don’t get to travel abroad much or compete against other top teams we’ve had to focus on the things that we can do and not what we can’t do. “So we’ve concentrated on getting stronger and more powerful and also worked on our mental toughness and how to stay calm under pressure

“They’re a very keen team and are true athletesÔǪ you have to be when you’re pulling your own weight or more. This is the only women’s team that I’ve ever worked with to date and I’m really enjoying it ÔÇô their enthusiasm and open-minded attitude is great.”

A former Irish international rower back in the 1990’s McGrath has learnt from his own code .. there are only really three sports where have to go backwards to win something and they’re probably rowing, tug-of-war and backstroke in swimming. After having rowed I immediately had a feel for the sport.”

McGrath also does a fair amount of work on sports conditioning at Paarl Boys High “obviously a lot of rugby is involved there and I’ve also worked with golfers and various other sports codes.”

Can the SA women get a medal? “Absolutely, we’re going there to win a medal,” he says confidently. “We’ve got a very definite game plan and the other coaching staff that work with the team are also very confident. Since Scotland we’re definitely on the way up!”

The six women’s teams contesting the women’s 540kg division are: Chinese Taipei, China, South Africa, Holland, Switzerland and Germany.

The women who will fly the flag for South Africa in Cali are: Ane Ras, Bea Terblanche, Claudia Rix, Kim Carstens, Kittie Terblanche, Kobie Phillips, Leonell Steyn, Rene Ras and Yolandi Rabe. Manager: John McGrath. Coach: Anton Gerber. Technical advisor, Marius Smit


1 comments
lynette
lynette

Best of luck, Ladies!