Bea Meiring proved over the weekend in Singapore during a World Series Beach Wrestling event that with the right mindset, anything can happen.
The Tuks wrestler so nearly medalled. It would indeed have been a turn-up for the books if she did. Meiring only took up wrestling toward the end of last year. She has yet to wrestle competitively in South Africa. So for all practical purposes, the World Series event was her first serious competition.
Meiring won her first two fights, beating Halima Akter (Bangladesh) and Sirintorn Aomkaev (Thailand). She then had to face off against the world's best, Manon Kury. The French wrestler is top-ranked in the under-70kg category. Meiring lost, but not without a good fight. It took Kury 2 minutes and 13 seconds to overpower the Tuks wrestler. It was one of the longest fights of the day.
In the semifinals, Meiring was beaten by Ukraine's Oksana Herhel. Meiring again made her opponent sweat to victory. The fight lasted for 3 minutes. Most fights are won in the first 60 seconds.
So in the fight for bronze, it was again Meiring versus the top-ranked French wrestler. Kury did win, but it took her more than two minutes to do so again. Herhel took the gold.Surprisingly, it was not her two bouts against Kury that got Meiring's adrenaline pumping. It was the fight against Ukraine's Herhel that she won't forget.
"I really enjoyed it. Herhel so impressed me that I did an internet search afterwards. I was surprised to read that she won gold at the 2015 World Champs in the under-60kg freestyle in Las Vegas and a silver medal at the European Champs. Singapore was the first time that I got to wrestle against women. At Tuks, I have mostly been training against men. So I wondered how it would be if I matched up with a female opponent. It was exciting. I am now more motivated. I can't wait to compete against some of the best in freestyle events.
But for now, my focus is on beach wrestling. Singapore was a good learning experience. Hopefully, what I have learned will stand me in good stead at the end of the month at the African Beach Games in Tunisia.
"During a demonstration beach wrestling tournament in Tunisia, I realized that Africa's wrestlers tend to win fights by brute force. The Europeans are more tactically savvy in what they do. In Singapore, I went to high school. I need to crouch lower when making contact. I have also learned that it is difficult to execute nifty judo foot techniques in loose sand," said Meiring, who got a black belt in judo.
The rules of beach wrestling are pretty simple. The first wrestler to score three points wins. The matches occur on the beach in a seven-meter-diameter circle, and one point is awarded for a takedown or a pushout. Two points are awarded if there is a foot-to-back takedown.