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Piontek pulling out all the stops to seal his Rio 2016 spot
- Updated: January 15, 2016
Zack Piontek, 2014 Commonwealth Games judo champion, can be forgiven if he is going to be a little bit obsessive about the number 150 during the next five months.
‘At a rough estimate I think I need about 150 international ranking points to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio,’ the Tuks/HPC judoka said.
Pointek needs to be ranked amongst the top 22 judokas (under-90kg) in the world to go to the Games. He is currently ranked 25th although many countries have doubles, as in more than one judoka within the top 20, and they drop out at final rankings.
He plans to compete in four tournaments up until the end of May which is the cut-off for qualifying for the Games. On Sunday he will be in action in the African Open Tournament in Tunisia. Should he win he will get a 100 points.
‘My plan is to sort of chip away to get to 150 points. I am looking forward to compete on Sunday because my training has been going really well. In December I had the opportunity to train with some of Japan’s top judokas.
‘A definite highlight was our recent training camp in Bloemfontein. Mark Huizinga (Netherlands) who won the gold medal in the under-90kg category at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney was one of the coaches.
‘I had the opportunity to fight against him. What was nice is the fact that he went out of his way to teach me techniques and tactics which he thinks might stand me to good stead in my quest to qualify for the Games.’
In November last year Piontek won the African Open Tournament in Mauritius. He also won a bronze medal at the African Games in Brazzaville.
And another definite highlight was winning a silver medal at the African Championships in Gabon.