Pretorius maintains winning momentum Christi-Rose Pretorius

Ellina MhlangaSenior Sports Reporter 

ZIMBABWEAN judoka Christi-Rose Pretorius had another fruitful outing at the Algiers Junior African Cup last Friday after she emerged tops in the women’s +78kg weight category to claim a gold medal.

The positive start to the year has been encouraging for the promising judoka as she builds-up for major competitions such as the African Senior Continental Championships and the Junior World Championships. 

Pretorius is one of the several Olympic hopefuls for Zimbabwe and received the Olympic scholarship for Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The African Senior Continental Championships in September and the Junior World Championships are both Olympic Qualifiers with equal Olympic World Ranking points to an International Judo Federation Grand Prix.

Friday’s event was part of the qualifying events for the Junior World Championships expected to take place in October.

Earlier indications were that Pretorius is likely to compete at the World Championships in Qatar, in May.

But Judo Association of Zimbabwe president, Smart Deke, yesterday said the focus is now more on the World Junior Championships where she stands a good chance to finish among the top compared to the seniors’ event.

“Now I think the focus is on the Junior World Championships because she is now fighting in the +78kg and if she goes for the seniors, she is probably going to be fighting with athletes around 120kg or plus. 

“So it would be best for her to take the World Juniors to get the points she needs. So now we are going to push her to participate in the Junior Championships. This is her last year to participate in the juniors section and next year she will be 21 and will be participating in the seniors,” said Deke. 

The JAZ president was full of praise for Pretorius as he said she is one of the few best athletes from the country that have managed to win medals in continental competitions. 

And is confident of her chances to qualify for Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

“For us as a federation we are so happy with the performance because she is not the only Southern African athlete who is participating in these events. So it’s good to see her raise Zimbabwe’s and the Southern Africa’s flags high.

“It’s actually a good achievement for us and we are looking forward to Olympic Qualifiers. With the much needed Olympic points, I think she is standing on a good level to qualify.

“And we are just hoping she will get the much needed support in terms of funding, so that she can go ahead with the preparations without many hindrances.

“I think she is doing very good for the country and we have already concluded as a federation to make her our ambassador,” Deke said. 

Prior to last Friday’s event in Algeria, Pretorius had won another gold medal at the Tunis Junior Africa Cup in Tunisia on March 10. 

She is expected to compete in another event in Portugal in a few days’ time and attend a two-day training camp after the tournament.

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