South African wrestlers grabbed three gold medals in a hugely successful medal haul at the recent continental championships in Alexandria, Egypt.
A cadet, junior and senior team were sent by the SA Wrestling Federation, an event contested by 16 countries who sent their finest grapplers to do battle in the quest to qualify competitors for the African Games in Brazzaville, Congo later this year.
On this occasion it was the cadets who stamped their mark on proceedings, taking second in their team category and winning two of South Africa’s three gold medals. The cadet golds went to Marie Oosthuizen in the 65-70 kilogram division and Nico van den Berg in 46-50kg division.
The other SA gold medal went to junior Martin Erasmus in the 84-96kg division.
The cadet team went on to win a further 15 medals, the juniors 11 while the seniors picked up 10 medals. Noteworthy is that every senior team member won a model as that category brought back four silvers and six bronze medals.
Two of the medal-winning junior athletes, Reynhardt Louw and Leanco Stans, were part of Team South Africa at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China last year, while four of the seniors saw Commonwealth Games action in Glasgow, Scotland last year.
All 10 of the senior medal-winners qualify for the African Games in Congo.
Manager of the SA team was Shaun Bartlett who was upbeat after the team’s success.
‘This year’s Africa was one of the toughest in a long time,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. Our team was filled with young wrestlers, many of them wrestling their first Junior and Senior Continental Championships.
‘Despite this we had a very good showing. Martin taking the Junior title on the Friday and then placing second on the Sunday in the Senior event was the highlight of the Championship for me.
‘There were many good matches over the three days but the Senior Freestyle wrestler who impressed me most was Gert Coetzee. He narrowly missed out in his final against the Algerian, Sayeh. His first match against the Egyptian was easily one of the best matches of the day.
‘The Greco Roman team also had a good showing and Barco Badenhorst impressed in the Junior competition placing third and then going on to win silver in the seniors on Saturday.
‘Refilwe Molongwana from Kuruman in the Northern Cape also showed that we have talent all over South Africa. In her first Senior African Championships she placed second in a g field of woman wrestlers.’
Looking further down the road to Commonwealth and Olympic prospects and Bartlett has high hopes. ‘Each of our wrestlers has the potential but Martin must surely be top of the list after this Championship. At only 20 years of age he’s definitely one to watch for the 2020 Olympics and definitely for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.’
But right now, the African Games are in the spotlight and again Bartlett is optimistic. ‘We qualified 10 wrestlers and considering how close we came to taking gold in several of our matches I think we’re in for a good showing at this year’s games.’
Other results apart from the medal-winners mentioned previously:
Jacques Ludik U42kg Greco Roman – Silver
Johny Smit 42-46kg Greco Roman – fourth
JJ Ludick 46-50kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Edrich Nortje 50-54kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Andrew MacGregor 54-58kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Theyman Jongbloed 58-63kg Greco Roman – Silver
Wiehan Whelan 63-69kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Jacques Kriel 69-76kg Greco Roman – Silver
Zuleike Ludick 49-52kg Ladies – Bronze
Monique Venter 52-56kg – Bronze
Casey van Baalen U42kg Freestyle – Silver
Xander Coetzee 42-46kg Freestyle – Silver
Shaun Le Roux 46-54kg Freestyle – Bronze
Luco Meyer 54-58kg Freestyle – Silver
Matthew Bartlett 58-63kg Freestyle – Silver
Owen Cilliers 63-69kg Freestyle – fourth
Dylan Marais 69-76kg Freestyle – Silver
Jason Beukes 46-50kg Greco Roman – Silver
Gift Chochi 50-55kg Greco Roman – Silver
KleinJan Combrink 55-60kg Greco Roman – Silver
Barco Badenhorst 60-66kg Greco Roman – fifth
Victor Mellen 75-84kg Greco Roman – fourth
Patricia Theledi 44-48kg Ladies – Bronze
Leanco Stans 59-63kg Ladies – Bronze
Marie Oosthuizen 67-72kg Ladies – Bronze
Given Chochi 46-50kg Freestyle – Silver
Reynhardt Louw 50-55kg Freestyle – Silver
Jaco van Staden 55-60kg Freestyle – fourth
Onke Osadolor 60-66kg Freestyle – Bronze
Lucius van Rensburg 66-74kg Freestyle – Silver
Michael Gaitskill 74-84kg Freestyle – Bronze
KleinJan Combrink U59kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Barco Badenhorst 59-66kg Greco Roman – Silver
Tiaan van der Merwe 85-98kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Andre Schutte 98-130kg Greco Roman – Bronze
Jeanne-Marie Coetser 53-55kg Ladies – Bronze
Zumicke Geringer 63-69kg Ladies – Bronze
Rifilwe Molongwana 69-75kg Ladies – Silver
Gert Coetzee 57-61kg Freestyle – Silver
Armando Hietbrink 74-86kg Freestyle – Bronze
Martin Erasmus 86-96kg Freestyle – Silver
Source : South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee