Being the only South African judo athlete to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics, Jacques van Zyl (22) has only one thing in mind: winning gold. After ranking 25th in the world, Van Zyl needed to be placed 22nd or better in the under-73kg division to qualify as part of the South African Olympic team. After winning silver earlier this year in the Africa Championships in Agadir, Morocco, he did exactly that.
Van Zyl told Perdeby that it is a great honour to be the only judo representative for the country, but that he would have loved it to have a full team going along. “My dream is definitely the gold medal. I know that I have the talent to win and I want to go show it to the world.” For the past four years, his main focus was only qualifying for the Games, but it has been a long journey of hard work and dedication. Van Zyl won his first National Championship at the age of nine and has won another six national titles since then. However, the road to success has not always easy. He had to give up his studies at Tuks and has required surgery on both his shoulders. “I think it has just been my motivation and chasing my dream that has been my recipe for winning. I’ve been so focused and dedicated that nothing would have been able to stop me,” said a confident Van Zyl. The South African Olympic Committee has set an ambitious goal of 12 medals for the South African team, after South Africa brought back just one medal from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Van Zyl will be competing against 385 other athletes in 14 medal events. His toughest competitors at the Games will be from Japan, Korea, France and Russia. But Van Zyl is not fazed by the tough competition and is focused only on gold. “My friends, family and girlfriend keep me motivated, and also just chasing that dream, seeing that gold around my neck. In life it isn’t about how hard you hit, but how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward,” Van Zyl said. After the weekend’s start to the Olympic Games, millions of followers will zoom in on different athletes’ progress. Van Zyl will only zoom in on one thing: gold.
See the complete list of TuksSport Olympians below or on your smartphone, ilincc Perdeby7413i.
The following TuksSport athletes and coaches have been selected to represent Team SA at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London:
AQUATICS Karin Prinsloo, Roland Schoeman, Suzaan van Biljon, Darren Murray and Igor Omeltchenko (coach)
ARCHERY Johan Steyn (manager/coach)
ATHLETICS Track and field: Caster Semenya, Willie de Beer, Lehann Fourie, Khotso Mokoena, Oscar Pistorius and LJ van Zyl. Kurt Couto (Mozambique) 50 km race walk: Marc Mundell Hennie Kotze (coach)
CANOEING Bridgitte Hartley
HOCKEY Women: Dirkie Chamberlain and Nicolene Terblanche Men: Rhett Halkett, Justin Reid-Ross and Jonathan Robinson
JUDO Jacques van Zyl and Nikola Filipov (manager/coach)
ROWING Men’s lightweight coxless four: Matthew Brittain, Lawrence Ndlovu, John Smith and James Thompson
Women’s pair: Lee-Ann Persse and Roger Barrow (manager/coach)
SHOOTING Alistair Davis
TRIATHLON Lindsey Parry (manager/coach)
MEDICAL Bafana Sihlali (Chief physiotherapist) Phathokuhle Cele (Medical doctor) Corli van der Walt (Mozambique: physiotherapist)