By Mark Etheridge
London Olympics judoka Jacques van Zyl has warmed up for this month’s Commonwealth Games in Scotland on a winning note.
Van Zyl was one of a team of South Africans who fought at the African Championships in Mauritius at the weekend. And he was the only SA player to return with a medal.. but that single medal was a golden hue!
The West Rand, Gauteng athlete was one of four Commonwealth Games-bound athletes in action on the Indian Ocean island.
The others were: DJ le Grange, who ended fifth in the -60kg division, while Siyabulela Mabulu (-66kg) and Zack Piontek (-90kg) both came fifth and our women’s representative, Sinothando Mva, was seventh in the -52kg category.
Van Zyl took on four continental opponents before grabbing gold.
He told Road to Rio 2016: “We flew to Mauritius three days before the competition and my first fight was against Mali’s Seydou Traore. He caught me early with a throw but then I came back and threw him ippon.
“The second fight was against Libya’s Abdulnasr Mohammed that I also won.”
That put Van Zyl into the semi-final where he took on Ivory Coast’s Jean-Pierre Adingra and, like his first fight, he was on the back foot early on.
“I was also behind to start off but then I came back nicely to win and reach the final where I fought Algeria’s Oussama Djeddi.
“I threw him ippon around 1min 30sec so now I’ve won my third Africa title, and the second in a row,” he said proudly. “This was a tough continental championships with lots of the strong countries bearing their best, their No 1’s and 2’s.”
Next up for Van Zyl are the national championships.
“Those take place in Port Elizabeth next week and then it’s off to Commonwealth Games!”