National captain and 2012 Olympian Wiaan Viljoen won a full-house of two gold medals at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations badminton event at Rose Hill, Mauritius.
Singles specialist Jacob Maliekal successfully defended the title he won in Maputo in 2011 for the second time running. However, this time it was not the Nigerians who challenged him in the finals, but compatriot Prakash Vijayanath, the 20-year old youngster who is currently training and studying in Ireland.
Another youngster, Andries Malan, won a gold in the men’s doubles final (partnered with Viljoen) and one silver (partnered with another new cap Jen Fry) against Viljoen and his partner Michelle Butler-Emmett.
South Africa proved their dominance in the 2013 Continental Championships by winning three gold, two silver and three bronze medals in the individual events. Combined with the team gold, South Africa won four out of six golds up for contention, with the other two going to Mauritius in the women’s singles and to Seychelles in the women’s doubles.
It will only be a matter of time and experience before the South African women will pose serious contention for the women’s gold medals ÔÇô already they won bronze in the women’s singles and doubles.
National head coach Stewart Carson said: ÔÇ£I am really proud of all the players, they have all stepped up and picked up where the previous team left off. We have a really bright future ahead of us and I believe these players will continue to get better and give us even bigger success on the world stage.ÔÇØ
Preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio is well underway with OPEX Athlete Maliekal cementing his position as Africa’s best men’s singles badminton player and the new combination of Wiaan Viljoen and Andries Malan making their mark as a doubles combination. Youngster Elm├® de Villiers in the women’s singles and Viljoen (with the right partner) in the mixed doubles disciplines should be dominating in a few years’ time, but also watch out for 21-year old bronze medallists Elm├® de Villiers and Sandra le Grange come qualification time in the women’s doubles discipline.
Vijayanath, Maliekal and De Villiers have been included in the 2016 Road to RIO Project of Excellence.