The journey to the 2024 Olympics has begun, and South Africa’s badminton players are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for qualification. After facing disappointment with no players in contention for the 2020 Games, they have come a long way and are now on the path to Olympic glory.
The Olympic qualification period, spanning from the start of May until the end of April 2024, holds the key to their dreams. In the singles category, the South African players must secure either the 1st or 2nd position among African players on the world ranking (WR) list by May 2024. Their top 10 international tournaments will play a crucial role in determining their world ranking.
🚺 WOMEN’S SINGLES Leading the charge in women’s singles is Nita Scholtz, currently ranked 128th in the world. With participation in only 8 international events, Nita’s climb up the world rankings is expected to continue as she targets a full quota of 10 tournaments. Though the competition is fierce, her planned participation in various tournaments positions her well to maintain her #1 spot in Africa.
🚹 MEN’S SINGLES The men’s singles category is no cakewalk, with international draws of 64 players making it a challenging event. Nevertheless, three South African players are vying for Olympic qualification. Robert Summers (WR 245), Robert White (WR 297), and Caden Kakora (WR 277) have shown immense promise, despite competing against players with more experience and a greater number of tournaments under their belts. Their consistent improvement and increased participation in international events place them in good stead to challenge the best in Africa.
To qualify for the doubles disciplines, South Africa’s representatives must not only be the top-ranked Africans but also find a place within the world’s top 50.
🚺 WOMENS DOUBLES African Champions Deidre Laurens and Amy Ackerman have made their mark as the highest-ranked African pair with a world ranking of 77. Their remarkable progress over the last 18 months has been noteworthy. To breach the formidable top 50, they’ll need to clinch victories in more African tournaments and secure berths in the main draws of prestigious Super 500/750/1000 events in Europe and Asia. Their qualification for the World Championships in Denmark is a testament to their dedication and skill.
🚹 MEN’S DOUBLES Following their triumph in the African title earlier this year, the duo of Jarred Elliott and Robert Summers now stands as the second-highest ranked African pair at 115, with the top combination positioned at 68. Gaining entry into the top 50 will indeed be a challenging task for this relatively new partnership. To achieve their goal, they must participate in numerous events and claim more titles on the African circuit. Their qualification for the upcoming World Championships is a remarkable achievement and reflects their potential for further success.
🚹🚺 MIXED DOUBLES Jarred Elliott and Amy Ackerman form the third highest-ranked African pair in mixed doubles, boasting a world ranking of 82. With the highest-ranked African pairs at positions 55 and 64, they have a substantial climb ahead to break into the top 50. However, their commitment to participating in as many international events as possible will undoubtedly aid their progress, and continuous improvement should propel them up the rankings.
These players have defied the odds, having not even appeared on the world ranking list a few years ago and facing early eliminations in the African Championships. Through sheer hard work and determination, they have shown remarkable growth despite limited resources. While the Paris Olympic Games may come too soon for some, the future is undoubtedly promising. Badminton South Africa can take pride in the fact that these talented players will remain strong contenders for the top spots in Africa in the years to come.