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- Big medal haul for SA at Junior Commonwealth Games
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Erasmus in final effort to make the Olympic grade in Turkey
- Updated: May 5, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Brakpan strongman Martin Erasmus is in Turkey on the next leg of his bid to be part of Team South Africa at the Rio Olympics later this year.
The senior wrestler was one of a team of South Africans who took part in the Continental Championships in Alexandria, Egypt in March where he won a coveted silver medal in the 86-97kg freestyle division.
In a titanic battle he went down to the host nation’s Aly Hamdy Amin Moustafa, losing by a single point after full time was up.
The silver medal gave the 20-year-old product of Laerskool Dalview and Hoerskool Stoffberg a lifeline as far as qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio goes and at his age silver in Egypt is something to take note of as most top athletes on the world championships and Olympic stage are between the ages of 23 and 28 years old.
Only silver or gold at the last qualification tournament in Istanbul later this week, will be good enough to possibly secure him to Rio.
Should Erasmus win that gold or silver he would have a chance of being the first South African wrestler to represent his country at the Olympics since Heinrich Barnes at Beijing eight years ago.
Like most sports in South Africa, qualification criteria for wrestling is very strict and wrestlers are only able to qualify at a Senior Word Championship, by placing in the top six or at one of two Olympic qualification events in Mongolia and Turkey, where they need to place in the top three or top two in their weight category at each event respectively.
In terms of the policy signed between SASCOC and SAWF, the Oceania/Africa Continental Qualification tournament is not recognised and South Africa’s wrestlers are unable to qualify through this event.
Coach Nico Coetzee, a man who has served in this capacity on many Team South Africa trips, is in Turkey with Erasmus and shared some more information with Road to Rio 2016 from Istanbul.
‘A total of 28 participants have entered in this weight class for the fourth phase and final Olympic qualifier. Martin is among the youngest wrestlers here in his class.
‘But he really proved his worth at African Championships, where he beat Nigerian’s Soso Tamarua 7-2. He also beat Senegal’s Aristide Diatte before that narrow loss to Amin.
‘Although he’s still young, he’s prepared to take on the more experienced competitors and he really wrestles to win. He’s an attacking grappler with great skills and there’s a very bright future for him. I’m very confident that he’ll do well and make us all proud.’
Weigh-in for Erasmus is Saturday and competition will take place on Sunday.
Although South Africa’s other wrestlers at the Continental Championships failed to reach the next stage of the Olympic qualifying process they still gave a great account of themselves as the Egyptians dominated.
Hanru Botha won silver in the 65-70kg Freestyle weight category, but unfortunately the weight class he participated in is a non-Olympic class.
WV Meyer (70-75kg Freestyle) and 2014 Commonwealth Games wrestler Terry van Rensburg (61-65kg Freestyle) both won bronze in their respective categories, narrowly missing out on further qualification.
Also coming third was Zander Geringer in the 71-75kg Greco Roman category.
The SA women’s athletes also performed well with several of them narrowly missing out to proceed to the next round of qualification.
Norma Gordon (53-55kg), 2014 Youth Olympian Leanco Stans (60-63kg) and 2015 African Games team-member Jeanne Marie Coetser (58-60kg) all placed third.