South Africa’s team for the senior Kurash World Championships next month includes many a seasoned international judo player.
A team of 13 will fly the national flag between 1-4 December in Istanbul, Turkey.
Eight men will fight in categories ranging from -60kg to +100kg and five women compete from the -48kg to -87kg division.
One of the thousands of martial arts variations, Kurash originated in Uzbekistan and closest resembles judo, with the difference being that there is no groundwork permitted.
It’s a spectacular fast-paced throwing sport with no armlocks, choking and kicking permitted.
Among the SA judoka switching codes are Commonwealth Games competitor DJ le Grange and Devon Cook in the men’s division and Michaela Witbooi, Rene Strydom and Jasmine Martin in the women’s competition.
Brazilian-born Martin fought at cadet world championships in Chile earlier this year and also won gold at the AUSC Region 5 Games in Luanda, Angola last year.
Martin’s coach, Johan Duckworth, is Martin’s coach in Durban as well as being one of the sport’s ambassadors in the South Africa.
‘Jasmine and I both competed at the World Martial Arts Mastership Games in Korea in September last year where Jasmine placed third and I won my division.
‘We’re glad to be taking a much bigger team this year and are hoping for good results all round. It’s a young team and I believe that Jasmine and Jenita Cross stand a good chance of taking a medal for the women.
‘In the men’s competition, I’m hoping to retain my world title this year, and also believe there is a good chance that DJ le Grange and Paul Holder could also take medals.’
Added Martin: ‘I’ve been doing a lot of training for Kurash worlds and am very excited to experience another country’s vibe and energy. I’ve just been training hard for the best result.’
For his part, the president of the SA Kurash Federation, Donald Sutherland, says: ‘Kurash is on the up and this is one of the largest, if not the largest, contingents of players ever attending the world championships from SA. It’s a very strong squad with numerous medal possibilities.’
The full team doing duty in Turkey:
Men: Devon Cook (60kg), Tumi Nkoala (60kg), DJ Le Grange (66kg), Michael Olivier (73kg), Luke Steyn (81kg), Johan Duckworth (100kg), Paul Holder (+100kg), Bennie van Blerk (+100kg)
Women: Michaela Whitebooi (48kg), Jenita Cross (57kg), Jasmine Martin (63kg), Rene Strydom (63kg), Chantelle Visser (87kg)