Cape Town - Mandi Maritz returns to the Sanyo Cup in Japan for the first time in a decade confident of individual and team glory.
Maritz is South Africa’s recognised queen of beach sprinting and one of the best in the world. She dominated the recent General Tire Lifesaving South Africa National Championships in the flags and sprint disciplines and has been among the most consistent performers on the global circuit.
South Africa in 2016 finished third behind winners Australia and world champions New Zealand, and it would make for an outstanding team effort to again be among the medals.
The Sanyo Cup is an annual beach competition hosted by the Japan Lifesaving Association and next weekend celebrates the 10th anniversary.
The world’s best (New Zealand) will be joined by Australia, Netherlands, USA, South Africa and Hong Kong, while hosts Japan will field an ‘A’ and ‘B’ team.
This year’s event will be held at the Momochi Beach, which is a man-made beach near the centre of Fukuoka City, surrounded by islands, breakwaters and a peninsula.
Maritz won as a junior in Japan 10 years ago and knows that nothing but a peak performance will win gold against the likes of the Kiwis and Aussies.
KwaZulu-Natal’s Carmel Billson will also get an opportunity to transfer her national form onto the international stage. Billson has been in stunning form in the past 12 months and has been the stand out competitor in domestic competitions.
Billson won a record 17 titles in 2016 and won the overall female category at the 2017 General Tire/LSA National Championships.
Maritz, Billson and Daniel Jones will have a greater appreciation of their international standing and young Eastern Province sprinter Bradley Odendaal also gets a chance to dazzle.
Odendaal was a late replacement for South Africa’s sprint king Ryle de Morny.
South Africa’s coach Jay-Cee Thomson described the South African team as a mix of experience and youth and one that has rewarded consistently good form over the last 12 months.
Thomson knows the threat of New Zealand, who will be smarting after losing to Australia at the Sanyo Cup in 2016.
Jess Miller leads the Kiwis for the third time at the Sanyo Cup and is the Ironwoman champion from 2016.
‘New Zealand and Australia are always imposing at any event but we’ve got some outstanding athletes,’ said Thomson.
New Zealand’s Team Manager Steve Vaughan identified South Africa as leading the pack of those nations who have closed the gap on New Zealand and Australia.
‘We have a lot of experience we can tap into. However, with a new venue and different countries in attendance, there is still an element of the unknown with makes it exciting. We are expecting flat, long racing conditions and it will likely be very hot.’
South Africa National team:
Coach: Jay-Cee Thomson
Manager: Tracy Baird
South Africa placed third in the 2016 Sanyo Cup in Japan