By Mark Etheridge
Commonwealth Games judo gold medallist Zack Piontek fought his way to a silver medal at the African Championships in Libreville, Gabon at the weekend.
He lost in the final of the -90kg division, going down to Algeria’s Abderrahmane Benamadi in a golden score decision.
Up to that point the big Pretoria fighter had won his three fights in emphatic style. He beat Angola’s Silvio Mateus, Ivory Coast fighter Kinapeya Kone in the preliminaries and in the semi-finals he beat Oussama Mahmoud Snoussi of Tunisia.
‘I won all three of my fights on ippon and was in top form,’ Piontek told Road to Rio 2016. ‘Then I took on Abderrahmane in the final and it was a monster fight.’
The two had fought on two occasions previously, with both winning one.
‘I led with two shidos (penalties) compared to three. Then two seconds before the end of the fight the the refs gave me a third shido so we were all square.
‘Then we went into golden score [sudden death] and then he managed to throw me with a wazari.
‘Still, it’s my first African senior medal and it’s a silver, so not bad.’
In another good result, one of the South African team’s newcomers, Calvin Fourie, took a bronze medal in the -100kg division, after beating Angolan Audacio Cambamba on ippon in the bronze medal bout.
The nine-strong South African team (with just one female member, Zelda Olivier) ended seventh of 21 countries on the medals table with their two medals. Piontek’s fellow Commonwealth Games team-mates Jacques van Zyl and Siyabulela Mabulu both ended in fifth spot while there was a seventh spot for Kevin Keuvelaar.