Two University of the Western Cape (UWC) sporting champions have been selected into the star-studded Team South Africa for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia in April – further testimony to the University’s remarkable contribution to sport development in the country.
Boxing sensation Sinethemba Blom and hockey star Ryan Julius were named among the more than 171 men and women from almost all the sporting codes (the Rugby Sevens have not been announced yet) who will do battle for the country in the event from April 4 to 15.
The two athletes have been in scintillating form in recent years and deserve their selection.
Blom, a BA student in Psychology, is a legend in the boxing world: he’s four-time South African Lightweight Champion, has won the University Sport South Africa (USSA) title five times, and is rated number one in South Africa, sixth in Africa and 43rd in the world.
In February, he earned a bronze medal to help the South African National Boxing Organisation team finish second in the Zone 4 (Southern Africa) African Boxing Championship in Maputo, Mozambique.
“My selection for the Commonwealth Games means a lot for my career,” the Stutterheim-born boxer comments. “I’m so happy to contribute to putting my name - along with that of my small hometown of Stutterheim, of UWC and of South Africa - on the map.”
“I have been working very hard for many years without much recognition from various bodies. I can see now that hard work and perseverance is starting to pay off,” he adds. “I will do my best, and I’m confident I’ll bring home a medal.”
His SA boxing team is scheduled to hold a training camp in Ukraine this month in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, and Blom, who lives in Du Noon, is looking forward to it. “Ukrainian boxers have done well at international tournaments, and we will be trained by and with Olympians and international champions. I’m sure my boxing abilities will improve a lot.”
Having started playing hockey at the age of 13, Julius went on to compete in his first inter-provincial trials, then all the way to the all-star team (comprised of only the top 15 SA players in the under-13 age group). From there he continued to rise in the hockey ranks, qualifying in different divisions of the SA team. At age 20, he made the provincial team and represented his country at the Junior World Cup in India.
Born and raised in Cape Town, the BCom student excels in both indoor and outdoor hockey. For the latter, he represented SA in the National Men’s team, and for indoor, he is set to participate in Germany, Berlin for the Indoor World Cup.
“This is my biggest achievement to date, as I will be travelling with Team South Africa,” Julius says of his latest selection. “I am honoured and privileged to participate in this prestigious event. This is, once again, another opportunity to work closely with people that share the same passion for the sport I love.”
Julius adds that it is an exciting year for SA hockey, and with the appointment of a new coach, South Africa should be excited for what's to come.
“The support I receive from UWC is appreciated. I hope I have done the University proud - and I will continue to thank and promote the Institute as much as I can.”