Grappling for gold at Cape championships

Mitchells Plain Judo Clubs Shaznay Meyer, right, and Avril Wessels, tussle for dominance during the weekends Cape Town Judo Associations open judo tournament in Belhar. Shaznay has been in fine form in various competitions this year, winning six gold medals overall.

pictures: fuad esack

Club members Tiara Valentine, Quintilee Williams, Ruwaida Sampie, Chloe Williams and four time SA national champion, Shaznay Meyer, all from Beacon Valley, were among the top performers on the day.

Shaznay, 15, a Grade 10 pupil at Oval North High School, was made to sweat in her final face-off against Avril Wessels in the girls under-15, 48kg category.

Shaznay has taken part in six events this year, and she’s collected gold medals from each event, including one at the national championships in Port Elizabeth in June.

The youngsters are currently preparing for a spot in next year’s Africa Junior Championships set to take place in the city.

Some of them may have to qualify from the national ranking points event in Pietermaritzburg at the end of this month.

Shaznay said the trip to Pietermaritzburg is crucial for lifting her ranking points, especially after missing two events due to funding earlier this year.

“My mom and I are trying very hard to make a plan to go to Pietermaritzburg. I have to fight there for the national ranking points. I didn’t participate in two events in the first two months so fighting there might get me to next year’s Africa Junior Championships,” she said.

Shaznay said she was introduced to judo by a friend seven years ago while in Grade 4.

“I used to play netball as a hobby, but now judo is my everything,” she said.

“All the tournaments I’ve participated in this year I won gold. These include four trials for the Cape Town leg – all gold. In Port Elizabeth I fought three matches and ended up winning gold in the final, and during the SA finals in June I won gold,” she said.

Shaznay’s mother, Verenice said she was excited about her winning another gold medal.

“Since the beginning of the year she has been winning gold. I’m excited and very proud of her. She trains on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Beacon community centre, in Beacon Valley.

“At the end of the month she will be going to Pietermaritzburg for the national rankings. In her category she is ranked number one. It’s Women’s Month and I’m very excited for her,” said Meyer.

Another equally proud parent, Hilton Hayward said his daughter, Chloe, came second in the girls’ under-13, over 57kg division.

He said she did well, but, she needs to train more.

“It’s the second year now that we have been a part of the club. She’s been able to travel around SA. She was in Bloemfontein for the national championships, where she came fourth and also in George. She has improved very well thanks to the club,” said Hayward.

Senior coach, sensei and co-founder of the club, Stanton Valentine said since the club was started in 2010, they have won medals in most of the national, district and provincial events.

“We had nine students at the event on Saturday and we won eight medals. The club was started by myself and a friend in 2010. The next year he moved to Australia and left the club with me and my wife, Rhodena.

“Today we have about 15 to 20 students. We usually perform well at the SA champs and come back with a successful rate,” he said.

Valentine also re-iterated the importance of the national ranking points event, in Pietermaritzburg, at the end of the month. He said his students will have to perform well at that event, if they were to stand a chance to compete at next year’s Africa Championships.

“They all know what I’m about, hard work and going out to enjoy themselves. If you put in the hard work, it will show up in results,” said Valentine.

His wife, Rhodena, is also a junior coach at the club and looks after adminstrative matters.

She said even before she joined her husband in managing the club, she was already a judo student.

“I think any parent will feel proud (of their children’s achievements). We always try to accommodate the rest of the kids at the club so they don’t miss out on events in and outside of the city. If the event is in Port Elizabeth for example, we’ll try to find cheaper accommodation,” she said.

Rhodena said they are trying to eliminate the stigma that children coming from the Cape Flats are all a part of the so called ill system.

“We would like more children to be more exposed to the sport. It doesn’t matter where you come from.

“It’s about where you are think you can go to that is important. My husband and I will sacrifice for these children to get them where they need to be. They are doing well at school. That is because judo transforms a person into doing better.

“All of our kids are champions, all of them did very well. They motivate us, they motivated me to go back and do my degree in school. I’m proud of them,” she said.

If you would like to be a part of the Mitchell’s Plain Judo Club, call Rhodena at 073 354 6258 or email rhodenacv01@gmail.com, or call Stanton at 082 958 505 or email at stanmpjudo@gmail.com.

Training sessions are held from 6.30pm to 8pm on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, at the Beacon Valley community centre.