Steyn de Lange took a big step towards qualifying for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham when he won a bronze medal in the under-92kg freestyle at the Junior World Championships in Ufa, Russia.
The 20-year-old from Limpopo is now the second South African wrestler to ever win a medal at the Junior Wrestling Championships. The first was Pieter-Hendrik van der Schyf, who also won bronze in 2006.
Steyn defeated Muhammed Gimri from Turkey in a match that ended with an 8-6 points decision.
“The road to the bronze medal match was through some formidable opponents. His first match was a hard and brutal match against Mayer from Germany. The next match in the quarter-final matchup was against Krisztian Angyal from Hungary.
“Steyn brushed him aside 10-0 to advance to the semi-finals. There, De Lange was beaten for the first time but th result put him straight into the battle for bronze,” the South African Wrestling Federation said.
The youngster started wrestling at the age of five and 15 years later he’s still wrestling at Ion Baciu Wrestling Club in Limpopo under the watchful eye of his coach Jan Roets.
The South African Wrestling Federation said its proud of the athlete and that the sport needed icons to look up to and that he was just that.
“This is a huge achievement for us. Medals at world championships are very rare, as mentioned before Steyn became only the second wrestler in South African history to win a medal at Junior Worlds. Previously Pieter-Hendrik van der Schyf won a junior bronze medal in 2006. The sport needs icons to look up to and Steyn is a well-disciplined, extremely hard-working athlete with lots of talent. He is still very young in wrestling terms and has a very bright future ahead of him.”
The two-time continental champion will compete at the upcoming national trials for the Commonwealth Championships, with his ultimate goal being to make the Paris 2024 Olympics team.
“He will partake in the national trials for the Commonwealth Championships that will take place in South Africa in December this year. Should he qualify here, he could stand a chance to be selected in his first multi-code team for South Africa, as this will be the qualification tournament for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. His ultimate goal is to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics,” noted the SAWF.
“We only selected two wrestlers to the team competing at the junior world championships. Arno van Zijl was selected in the 79kg Freestyle division and Steyn De Lange in the 92kg freestyle division.”