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Young Stemmet hoping to take a step up at African Championships

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As an eighteen-year-old, Devan Stemmet (TuksJudo) will be pretty much a novice when he steps on to the judo mats to fight for the first time at the Senior African Championships in Madagascar.

But if his nerves hold out, he might just create a surprise or two in the under-66kg category. He’d already proved at the South African Ranking Tournament in Bloemfontein that he could hold his own against older and more experienced opponents, when he managed to beat South African senior champion and Team SA Commonwealth Games competitor Siyabulela Mabula twice in one day.

What made his achievement remarkable, is the fact that 29-year old Mabula, who has been the South African senior champion for the last seven years, had not lost a local fight until his encounter with Stemmet.

Stemmet has no hesitation in describing it as one of the magical moments of his judo career and what made him realise that anything was possible if he put his mind to it. The Tuks judoka was in awesome form at the SA Trials and SA Ranking Tournament, winning 12 of his 14 fights with the maximum-scoring ippon method.

‘In spite of it going to be my first time competing at a Senior African Championships, I believe I can win a medal if my nerves don’t act up. The problem with being a judoka in South Africa is that we don’t get many opportunities to compete internationally, so we tend to lack confidence. In a worst case scenario, I could at least win one or two fights.’

Stemmet is so serious about giving a good account of himself in Madagascar that he has approached London Olympian Jacques van Zyl for advice.

A big disappointment for Stemmet was having to forgo the chance of representing South Africa at the African Junior Championships in Egypt. Previously he won bronze medals on two occasions at these Championships.

‘Unfortunately, due to a lack of funding I’m not able to compete in both championships. From a long term perspective, it’s better for me to compete at the Senior Championships. If I had medalled in Egypt, I would have had the opportunity to represent South Africa at the World Junior Championships.

‘After this year, I won’t have another opportunity to compete at Juniors Worlds,’ said the first-year University of Pretoria Sports Science Student.

Stemmet began competing in judo on his own and the first time his parents realised that he was doing judo, was when he brought them a coaching bill which needed to be paid.

Luckily for him, his parents realised how committed he was and supported him to the full.

It hasn’t been an easy journey for Stemmet. In the beginning, he remembers losing fight after fight at tournaments, but there was no way that he was quitting. As they saying goes practise makes perfect and it definitely did.

The following TuksJudokas have qualified to represent South Africa at the Africa Cadets, Junior and Senior championships. The cadets and juniors will compete in Egypt in May 2017 while the Seniors will compete in April 2017 at Madagascar.

Cadets: Thomas Breytenbach ( TuksSport High School),  Donne Breytenbach (TuksSport  High School), Marli Meiring, Katja Lang, Galaxy Acton, Charnè Griesel.

Juniors: Willem Truter, Brendan Nel and Bea Meiring.

Seniors:  Devan Stemmet, Dale Whittaker, Geronay Whitebooi, Siyabonga Mngqueta, Kayla Cameron and Matilda-Rose du Toit


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