Zack Piontek, Commonwealth Games judo champion, can be forgiven if he is going to be a little bit obsessive about the number 150 during for next five months. The Tuks/HPC judoka says: ‘At a rough estimate I think I need about 150 international ranking points to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio.’ Pointek needs to be ranked among the top 22 judokas (under-90kg) in the world to go to the Games.
He is currently ranked 25th. He plans to compete in four tournaments up until the end of May which is the cut-off for qualifying for the Games. On Sunday he will be in action in the African Open Tournament in Tunisia.
Should he win he will get a 100 points and he says: ‘My plan is to sort of to chip away to get to 150 points. I am looking forward to compete on Sunday because my training has been going really well. In December I had the opportunity to train with some of Japan’s top judokas. A definite highlight was our recent training camp in Bloemfontein. Mark Huizinga (Netherlands) who won the gold medal in the under-90kg category at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney was one of the coaches. I had the opportunity to fight against him. What was nice is the fact that he went out of his way to teach me techniques and tactics which he thinks might stand me to good stead in my quest to qualify for the Games.’ In November last year Piontek won the African Open Tournament in Mauritius.
He also won a bronze medal at the African Games in Brazzaville. A definite highlight was winning a silver medal at the African Championships in Gabon.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott