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- SA win three medals on day one of African Championships
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National judo aces switch tack to other interests
- Updated: September 26, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
The South African judo fraternity has lost two of its brightest stars… for now at least!
The multi-talented West Rand brother and sister combination of Ruan-Tobie and Unelle Snyman have both exchanged judo for other pursuits as their careers unfold.
Ruan-Tobie, 22, was a silver medallist at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland while younger sister Unelle was a gold medallist at the African Youth Games in Gaborone, Botswana and went on to represent Team South Africa at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
Snyman said after his silver medal in Scotland that he would have a tough decision to make on his return to South Africa. And so it has proved.
‘Yes, I decided to give judo up for now… swotting is a priority and it was also time for a bit of a change,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. ‘Financial backing and support were also just not really forthcoming nationally which made it even more difficult.
‘I’m sure I’ll be back to doing judo though… a person stays mad about this sport but I’m just not sure if I’ll be able to be as serious as I was. I’m now swotting mechanical engineering and expect to finish in 2017.’
As for sister Unelle, 19, she had offers of both a judo and netball bursary at Tuks and opted for netball in this instance. ‘I’ve just decided to focus on netball for now but will probably go back to judo some time.
‘During the year I played for the young side (U21) at Tuks. But then after Shadine van der Merwe and Ivette Lubbe’s injuries I was included in the Varsity Cup side and have been playing for them for the last two weeks. It was very tough going but it was definitely time to switch focus for a change,’ she told Road to Rio 2016.
And in another loss for the grappling code Vincent Redpath, who was coach at the Commonwealth Games, is also lost to the sport.
Bloemfontein’s Redpath, whose son William was also a medal winner at African Youth Games in Botswana, has emigrated to Australia. Wife Joan was previously in charge of the national high performance programme.