Winning can be addictive. Anyway, so it seems as over the weekend during the Dakar Open Judo Tournament Michaela Whitebooi won gold.
It is the second time in ten days that the Tuks judoka is victorious in the under-48kg category. Last week in Cameroon she also won. So it is mission accomplished. Whitebooi gained 200 international ranking points and is now be ranked in the top 50 in the world.
But the big battle still awaits her. Next month possible in Madagascar she will aim to defend the African title she won last year. If she wins the Tuks judoka will gain another 700 points moving her up to about 32nd in the world.
"If Michaela win's gold during the Africa Champs it is a near done deal that she will qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games as she will be invited to the World Masters Tournament. Once there she is guaranteed another 200 points even if she loses her first fight," explains her coach Nikola Filipov.
What excites him is how Whitebooi prevailed during the two tournaments. The Tuks judoka certainly did not have it all her own way. She lost her first fight in Yaounde (Cameroon) against Mauritius's Priscilla Morand. In the past, it would have rattled her but not this time.
Whitebooi blames herself.
"I 'bombed'. The fight was over in less than 30 seconds. It was a wakeup call. I could not afford another loss as there were 100 ranking points at stake. During my second fight, I dominated from the start. I then made sure to watch Morand fight. I needed to see what her strengths and wweaknesses were. It still turned out to be a tough fight, but I did win."
In Dakar Whitebooi and Morand were again the main protagonists with the Tuks judoka winning.
Filipov rates Whitebooi as technically one of the world's best.
"Realistically Michaela can beat anyone on any day. Unfortunately, judo is never only about being the strongest and fastest. It requires a strong mindset. A believe that you can win. Michaela tends at times still battle to do so, but she is getting better. I think it is because she realises she can't afford to waste any opportunity if she wants to compete at the Games.
"The last few months being in lockdown had not been easy. Michaela did not really have anyone to train with. She and I had to do most of the training on our own. Everyone knows executing a technique to perfection during training does not equate to doing the same when competing. Sport is about being 'competition' fit. Michaela last competed in February. It meant she had to dig deep to win the two gold medals.”