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BANGKOK - Port Elizabeth-based law student Bulelwa Memani plans to announce her arrival on the international judo arena in style by winning her first competition at the Thammasat University Indoor Sports Centre today.
The big and intimidating Memani, a final year LLB student at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University, is the only black South African member of the judo team at the 24th World Student Games, which started last Wednesday and ends on Saturday.
A popular women's rugby player (prop) in the Eastern Cape, the motor-mouth Memani is delighted that the long wait for her to taste international competition in judo is finally over.
"I have spent the past five days going to training in the morning and supporting other South African athletes in the afternoon, now it's their turn to come and root for me when I compete," said Memani after a light training session.
"My training went according to plan. It's good that we came here earlier to acclimatise.
"I regard these games as a major step towards going to the Olympic Games.
"Twenty athletes, mainly from the Asian countries, have registered to take part in my division (+78). I have done my homework and I'm ready for the 19 other athletes," said Memani, who plays for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan University rugby team.
"I also had a chance at the beginning of the year to be selected for the women's softball national team that is also competing here but decided to go with judo," said Memani.
l The South African women'' softball team suffered their third consecutive defeat here yesterday morning after Italy beat them 5-2. On Saturday morning, they lost 18-2 to tournament favourites Chinese Taipei in their opening match.
South Africa went on to suffer a 7-1 defeat to the host nation Thailand in the evening.