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Judoka Geronay uses sport to get a grip on life ahead
- Updated: July 9, 2015
Not only does 19-year-old judoka Geronay Whitebooi aspire to become the best female judoka in South Africa, she also wants to use her sport to improve her family’s standard of living.
Judging by her results she is well on her way to achieve both these goals.
Last weekend the teenager won both the senior and junior titles in the under-48kg category at the South African Open Championships in Stellenbosch. She was also part of Team South Africa at last year’s Region 5 Games in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
When asked when the last time was that she lost a fight in a local tournament, the Tuks/HPC judoka was not sure. ‘I think I have been unbeaten for the past three, maybe four, years.’
Whitebooi readily admits that her results do not tell the whole story. ‘Things have not always been as easy as my results might reflect. My toughest opponent has always been myself. I have to overcome my stress and get into the right mind-set before I step onto the mat and that is not always so easy. But if I manage to do that, nothing can stop me.
‘What certainly counts in my favour is that I am a very strong girl for the weight category I am competing in. However, I have no idea how good I really am because I have very limited international experience.’
Whitebooi made the most of the opportunity she had in 2013 to compete internationally by winning both the under-44kg category and the under-48kg category for Under-17 girls at the US Open.
‘I certainly owe much to Nikola Filipov, our coach at Tuks/HPC. He is undoubtedly the best. He literally gets onto the mat and shows us the best way to do the moves and he also fights with us to show us how to use this knowledge. He is constantly passing on his knowledge of judo, as well as of life, because just like we want the best for ourselves he wants the best for us.
Whitebooi considers the Olympic and Commonwealth Games judoka, Jacques van Zyl, and her mom as her role models.
‘Jacques is very strong minded. When he really puts his mind on something, he gives everything to achieve it.
‘What I admire about my mom is that she is a real fighter who never gives up. When my dad passed away my mom had to take over the roles of both parents. It was a challenge to her then and it still is. She always does her best to provide for us, even though she does not have a proper job. In spite of this she finds a way to put food on the table and pushes through even when times are tough.
‘I love judo but with this love come a great responsibility to work hard to get somewhere. For me judo is a means to make something of my life so that I will one day be able to provide for my family. Although I might not be able to give them the world, I will certainly make sure that their standard of living improves.
‘My ultimate goal is to represent South Africa at the 2020 Olympic Games and go on to become the best female judoka our country ever had,’ said the B.Com Financial Science student at the University of Pretoria.