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Young judoka players out to grab Region 5 medals

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By Mark Etheridge

A strong team of 15 judo players will be mixing it for medals in Team South Africa’s squad for the African Region 5 Games that get underway in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe early next month.
Seven men and eight women judoka will take to the mat for Team South Africa at these Under-20 Games.
The boys will compete in weight categories ranging from Under-55kg to U/100kg and the girls from U/44 to 78+kg.
The squad will be overseen by two managers, Ilze Kearney and Zann Wienand while entrusted with the coaching duties will be Godfrey Kleinsmith.
It’s long been a fact that judo is very much a family sport and this is very much evident in the team for Zimbabwe. Many of the parents of these youngsters boast grades of 1st Dans or higher.
William Redpath, who fights in the U/66kg and won bronze in the team competition at the 2nd African Youth Games in Botswana earlier his year, is able to benefit 24/7 by the fact that his father Vincent is Judo South Africa’s (JSA) head coach and was judo coach for South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow earlier this year. Making things even better is the fact that mom Esmé-Joan is also High Performance director of JSA.
Jousha Bester’s dad is very active in Masters judo, as is James Seccombe’s father while Skye Knoester’s mom and dad are both judo coaches.
The bulk of the boys’ team come from the Free State region while the girls’ make-up is dominated by players from Gauteng.
There should be strong competition from the regions in the boys’ U/60, U/66 and U/73 categories but there looks to be lots of medal-winning potential in the girls division as South Africa is very dominant in the region.
Courtney Read has medal written all over as she won gold at last year’s African Continental championships and bronze this year. This year has seen her move up a weight group to the U/78 division but she is without doubt one of the country’s most talented female judokas. Also looking good is Geronai Whitebook who has years of international experience under her belt.
The South African players will be up against opponents from all the southern region countries at these Games, namely Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and hosts Zimbabwe.

The full team for Region 5 Games is:
Boys: Babala Magqabi, Joshua Bester, William Redpath, Shawn Kearney, James Seccombe, Chris Golding, Janko Strydom.
Girls: Mpho Mofokeng, Geronai Whitebooi, Skye Knoester, Desiree Blake, Kirsten Chananie, Kayla Cameron, Courtney Read, Rethabile, Sehlabaka
Coach: Godfrey Kleinsmith
Managers: Ilze Kearney, Zann Wienand


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