Three of South Africa’s top judokas will be looking to earn some crucial ranking points towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Budapest Grand Prix Tournament over the weekend.
The Tuks judokas, London 2012 Olympian DJ le Grange, Unelle Snyman and Michaela Whitebooi will be among 626 judokas from 90 countries competing in the Hungarian capital.
South African under-66kg champion Le Grange said although ranking points were up for grabs he was looking to earn valuable experience against some of the world’s best judokas.
“I think to be able to qualify for the final I might have to contest up to five fights. It is going to be tough, but I would not have it any other way,” Le Grange said.
“There is still enough time left to get the ranking points I need to qualify for the Olympic Games. For now, it is more important to gain as much experience as I can.
“It is not often that I get to compete at a tournament with judokas from so many countries. Getting to learn how to handle myself against the various fighting styles will be more important.”
Whitebooi, who will is the top-ranked South African at the Grand Prix said she hoped to gain some confidence at the tournament.
“It is easy to do things right during training but when you compete your opponent is not just going to abide by what you want them to do,” Whitebooi said.
“You got to outthink them on the mats. I also need to get more confident in my own abilities. The only way to do so is to get the opportunity to fight against the best.”
Snyman will be looking to get as many opportunities to fight at the tournament after she only had two bouts at the South African Open Tournament in Port Elizabeth.
“Naturally I am going to fight to win, but I also want to learn from the international judokas as to how they go about doing their things,” Snyman said.
“What is exciting is that we get to attend an international judo training camp afterwards. It means that for a few more days I would get to test myself against excellent fighters. I am sure the experience is going to stand me to good stead in the build-up to the Games.”