By Mark Etheridge
South Africa’s tug-of-war women once again pulled their weight to repeat their World Games medal-winning performance in Wroclaw, Poland, at the weekend.
The women won bronze at the last Games in Cali, Colombia and did the same again.
In Colombia they beat Switzerland for bronze, on this occasion they beat the powerful Netherlands side.
The medal was just reward for three years of tough preparation for the indoor side. After going down to the Netherlands in the preliminary matches in Poland, the South Africans dug deep to clinch the bronze.
It was also sweet revenge for the South African tug-of-war women, who went down against the Netherlands in the previous World Games.
In the final, Chinese Taipei beat China to take gold.
A happy coach, Anton Gerber, said of the team’s medal-winning performance, South Africa’s only medal at these Games: ‘In comparison to our preparations for Cali, we brought in a lot more focus on strengthening legs, as well as general strength exercises.’
‘We also got “volunteers” from the other clubs to practice live against us, so that the ladies did not just exercise against a steel drum, but actually had “live” pulls.
‘In the off-season, our programme was adjusted to include more power and gym exercise, which focused a lot on strengthening the legs.
‘Part of our preparation was that two of our athletes and I spent two weeks in Taiwan with the Chinese Taipei team.
‘In terms of power work, our ladies have improved 10% on average with their stamina.’
Apart from putting heart and soul into their efforts, the women also brought new soles to Poland.
‘We exercised with our “old” shoes, and kept the new imported shoes for the competition. This definitely had a positive influence during the competition.
‘During the final, we played a tactical game against the Netherlands team, and it paid off.
‘Technically, we’ve improved by one position, due to the fact that China did not compete in the 2013 World Games in Cali.
‘China have been extremely strong in competitions over the past four years.
’We remain “best in the West”, and are the only sport in South Africa to have won a medal at the 2017 World Games. We also currently have the highest ranking of women’s team sports in South Africa.
The medal-winning team was made up of: Leonell Steyn (captain), Kittie Terblanche (vice-captain), Rene Groenewald, Rene Ras, Ane Ras, Samantha Wilmot, Nadine Stoop, Claudia Lassen and Jancke de Wet.
Coach: Anton Gerber, manager: Charlie Solms