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Dale Whitaker’s a winner once more!

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It took a long time, four years to be precise, but at long last Dale Whitaker can again claim to be a champion.
The Tuks/HPC judoka won the gold medal in the under-80kg category of the Commonwealth Championships in Port Elizabeth at the weekend, four years ago after winning the junior title at the same championships.
By winning gold in the under-90kg category Zack Piontek demonstrated that he is undoubtedly on track to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio. On the latest international judo rankings (released on Monday) the Tuks/HPC judoka is ranked 21st. The top 22 judokas in every category qualify automatically while there are also ‘doubles’ (countries with two players ranked in the top 22 and only one judoka per country per weight division is allowed)
Geronay Whitebooi and Sinothando Mva (both Tuks/HPC) won bronze medals in their respective categories.
When asked how it feels to be a champion again Whitaker’s honest reply was: ‘I’m quite relieved. It’s the first “big” title I have won as a senior judoka. I badly needed to win because there comes a time when you start doubting your own abilities. I have now proved that I’m still on track. My next goal will be to win a medal at the African Championships.’
In spite of being a versatile athlete while still at school, the 22-year-old Whitaker always knew that judo was going to be the sport in which he would try to make a name for himself. ‘What I love about judo is that it is not always the big guys that win. Small guys who are disciplined and able to think on their feet always have a chance to outsmart a bigger opponent.
‘I don’t think many people understand what it takes to be a judo champion. Apart from having to be tactically astute you have to accept that there is a possibility that you may get injured each time you fight. Sometimes I’m quite bruised and my muscles are stiff after a fight but if you had won the pain does not matter.’
Whitaker won all three his fights with an ippon score.
Whitebooi, who is an African junior champion, feels that she has failed at the Commonwealth Championships.
‘It’s not easy for me to admit this but sometimes you have to be honest with yourself. But I promise I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’m now more motivated than ever to regain the No1 ranking in my weight category,’ said Whitebooi, who finished third in the under-48kg category.
‘I think there are two main reasons why I did not win. Firstly I still battle to believe in my own abilities. I’m too nervous when I step onto the mat to fight.
‘My second shortcoming as a judoka is that I lack experience. If I ever want to have a chance of becoming truly competitive in international competitions, I will have to get the opportunity to compete against the world’s best. There are not enough good judokas in my category in South Africa to help me get the edge in fights that matter,’ said the Tuks/HPC judoka.
Whitebooi hopes that she will get an opportunity to compete at the African Senior Championships that will be held in Morocco in July.

Picture of Whitaker in action, courtesy of Reg Caldecott


4 comments
Team South Africa
Team South Africa

Hi there Charmaine Champs Van Schalkwyk... Mark E here! Yes we did a story on Tania and her daughter who did well in Scotland recently! Unfortunately/fortunately I have to look after more than 72 codes SOLO -- so as I always say... the sportsmen and women HAVE to get back to me too. I can only chase so many people! :-) Spread the word if you can! ;-)

Team South Africa
Team South Africa

LOL .. I'm always here! And by now most of the guys and girls should know to get hold of me.. up to them now! Most of them are becoming excellent, as in Zack etc but I need them ALL to be so pro-active! :-)

Charmaine Champs Van Schalkwyk
Charmaine Champs Van Schalkwyk

Well done :) Awesome stuff, but what about Tania RSA's very first Olympian judoka who came back recently to the sport? Both herself and her daughter achieved gold. So many RSA judokas achieved success at Commonwealth, NRE and other tournaments they deserve recognition as well. It takes more than just hard work to achieve what ALL of them do. New faces, New potential.. I guess it's a start for JSA to be recognized a little more... Well done to everyone and the officials, refs and organisers.