2 minute read
18 Jul 2014
8:03 am

Jacques van Zyl to grapple for gold

Olympic judoka Jacques van Zyl will be grappling for nothing less than gold when he takes to the mat at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games starting next week.

FILE PICTURE: Jacques van Zyl. Picture: sascoc.co.za

“My expectation is to definitely win a medal either gold or silver. After the African Championships I am back to 22 in the world rankings,” Van Zyl said ahead of the South African team’s departure.

Van Zyl’s prospects of claiming silverware at the Games were given a serious boost recently after claiming gold in the continental showpiece.

“I’m in good shape. Two weeks ago, we had the African Championships in Mauritius and I won gold, so I couldn’t have asked for better and I am definitely on track,” he said.

At the London Olympics two years ago, Van Zyl was faced with his biggest challenge. As the country’s only judoka at the event, he was eliminated in the second round of the -73 kilogram division.

He came painstakingly close to progressing to the next round after leading the match by points before going down to Azerbaijan’s Rustam Orujov.

Van Zyl did not allow the disappointment at the Olympics to influence his resolve and instead he has taken the lessons to heart.

“I had a very good fight and lost with 36 seconds left. I definitely learnt from that, where I am much more experienced and older,” Van Zyl said.

“I can see it now that from all the competitions, the Olympic experience has made me much calmer on the mat.”

After being the country’s lone judoka in London, Van Zyl heads up a strong six-member squad for Glasgow.

Another strong medal contender is Siyabulela Mabulu, who will be grappling in the -66kg division.

Mabulu was the country’s top performer at the 2013 World Judo Championships where he finished among the top 16.

Sinothando Mva will be South Africa’s only female representative at the Games, where she will be contesting the -52kg division.

She finished seventh at the continental championships and will be looking to make her mark at the Games where she will come up against even stronger opposition.

Judo team: Daniel le Grange, Siyabulela Mabulu, Jacques van Zyl, Zack Piontek, Tobie Snyman, Sinothando Mva.