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SA badminton aces reach Ugandan final

By Mark Etheridge

Our badminton players have just got back from Uganda as part of the code’s international exposure drive ahead of major multi-code sporting events.

A small team of six players took part in the Uganda International event, and were accompanied by national coach Stewart Carson who was also badminton coach for Team South Africa at the London Olympics in 2012.

Of the team Michael Jennings and Janke vd Vyver are Under-18 players trying to qualify for the second Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China later this year.

Other players were in the men’s singles, Jacob Maliekal, women’s singles: Elme de Villiers and then the doubles combo of Wiaan Viljoen (2012 Olympics) and Andries Malan, a player on SASCOC’s OPEX programme and his first tournament after injury.

Maliekal lost in the final of the men’s singles and the men’s doubles also reached the final.

“It was a good tournament and although conditions were tough with a serious draught in the hall we did well,” said Carson. “It’s a year from Olympic qualifying so we need to get these players as high as possible before the year stars.

“In the men’s doubles, where we are current African championships, we want to be inside top 60 by this time next year with the hope of them getting inside 40-35 in qualification.

“Jacob’s also on OPEX and we want top 80 by this time next year which would be his highest and looking at getting him higher during qualification.

“He’s a two-time African champion and the best we’ve ever had in men’s singles and he truly has the potential to be among the best.”

Maliekal is currently living and training in Malaysia.

Next up for the badminton bunch is a trip to Europe next month where Maliekal, Malan, De Villiers will travel with Carson to play international events in Romania, Poland and France.

Maliekal will only play the first of the tournaments due to school commitments in Malaysia.