HARARE – Judo Association of Zimbabwe (Jaz) took the first step in its next four-year long term athlete development plan by winning two bronze medals in the South African Open Judo Championships held last weekend in Port Elizabeth.
Zimbabwe won their medals through Liberty Arufandika in the Under-60kg division and Tatenda Guta Under-90kg.
Arufandika fought three fights while Guta endured four with each athlete losing one fight but managing to give impressive performances in skill and physicality to win their medals.
Another judoka who put up a splendid performance was Sydney Chibwayi but he lost his fight for bronze in the Under-81kg division.
Jaz president, Debi Jeans was impressed with the performance shown by the judokas reiterating that the association is heading in a positive direction in line with their four-year development programme.
“Our team did themselves and their country proud by training hard since February to achieve these result,” Jeans told the Daily News.
“I am very happy that Smart Tiyazimba, a former international competitor, proved himself on this tour as both an excellent coach and first-time international referee.
“It was an honour and a privilege to have been able to accompany the team and having a few current champions is always a great motivator for our young aspiring judokas.
“Thanks must go to Mr Lee and the other coaches as well as our Jaz executive committee, who worked hard to organise the tour.”
Jaz hopes to intensify their campaign in developmental areas going forward in order to better the momentum set in South Africa.
“Our next goal is to concentrate on club and coach development with an emphasis on promotion gradings, training systems and competitions which will increase the number of athletes and schools doing judo,” added Jeans.
“Judo is a sport for young and old, boys and girls, men and women.
“Physical and mental skills combined with discipline, respect for oneself and an opponent, dedication, commitment and applying the ‘warrior spirit’ attitude to everything, makes the martial art a way of life.”