Ellina Mhlanga, Harare Bureau
TWO of Zimbabwe’s junior judokas, Jayden Peterson and Nikki Economopolous. had a good outing at the South African Championships on Tuesday when they picked a gold and a bronze medal in their categories in Port Elizabeth.
This is the first time the Judo Association of Zimbabwe has fielded juniors in the event that concludes tomorrow with the seniors’ competition.
They had four juniors at the championships and the other two — Brett Raynars and Brayden Raynars — finished fourth and 10th in the 27kg and 31kg categories. Peterson claimed gold in the 27kg weight division while Economopolous settled for bronze in the 38kg category.
Peterson battled it out in four matches and won all of them to claim the top spot.
Eonomopolous had triumphed in two of his matches to get bronze.
JAZ president, Smart Deke, who is attending the championships said they are pleased with the young judokas performance since it was their first appearance at the event.
“Generally it was a great performance from the young athletes who are coming out of the small clubs in Zimbabwe. ‘And matching with the South African athletes who went through a serious selection to get medals, it’s a great performance.
“This gives great exposure to our young athletes as they have started to take part on the international platform at a young age, which is the biggest challenge in most sports.
“We are setting up a serious programme from now on going forward and have a lot of competition for juniors. As of now we are already looking at next year’s championships and hoping to bring a big team,” said Deke.
Deke said they would want to form partnerships with South African provinces to try and create more competitive events for their athletes.
“They are going to attend more of these events. We are even making agreements with other South African Provinces to come to Zimbabwe for competition.
As a region we are also pushing for this development.
“So for the athletes’ long-term programme this is a big opportunity that the country can start to work on for future judokas to give them this chance to represent their country at this early stage.
For the seniors Zimbabwe will now be represented by Sydney Mutero in the Under-90kg after Moses Mutendi, who was set to take part could not make it.