Whitebooi will take bronze for now but knows she has to improve. Michaela Whitebooi is not training to lose, but for now, she will make peace that during the African Judo Championships in Tunisia her performance was only good enough for bronze.
“I know things can’t get any worse. It can only get better. I can feel I am slowly starting to be able to execute the things I have been learning in training during my fights. However, I am still having relapses during my fights, and that cost me. I got to be able to stay more focused,” said the Tuks judoka who competes in the under-48kg category.
Whitebooi’s first fight was against Maimouna Diarrasouba (Ivory Coast). According to her, she was able to dominate on the mat which led to an easy victory. A nice confidence booster to get into the fighting spirit is how she describes it.
The semi-final fight turned out to be a rematch. During last year’s Open African Tournament in Cameroon Whitebooi got to face off against Aziza Chakir (Morocco) in the semi-finals. The Tuks judoka had the upper hand and went on to win the silver medal with the Moroccan having to settle for bronze.
“Aziza did her homework which meant she was better prepared and knew what my tactics were going to be. At first, it was a close encounter, but for a brief moment, I let my guard down. Aziza immediately made her move and managed to catch me off guard securing the victory.”
“I know this won’t be the last time that we will encounter each other on the judo mats. I will have to make sure that I am better prepared next time.”
Whitebooi secured the bronze by beating Chaimae Eddinari in her third fight.
“The most important thing I learned during the tournament is that I got to work on my tactics all the time and cannot afford to concede penalties so often during fights.”
Unelle Snyman won a bronze medal in the under-78kg category as well as in the Open category while Devan Stemmet also from Tuks finished 5th in the men’s under-73kg category.
Things did not quite work out for DJ le Grange (Tuks) in the men’s under-66kg category. Siyabulela Mabulu was fifth in the men’s under-66kg.
Whitebooi will receive her BCom Financial Science Degree on 18 April during the Autumn Graduation Ceremony at the Hillcrest Sport Centre.