Palesa Manaleng27 March 2024 | 14:02

'I just want to play with freedom' - Badminton player Scholtz

In March, at the African Games in Ghana, the 24-year-old successfully defended her women’s singles badminton title, becoming a back-to-back African Games champion.

'I just want to play with freedom' - Badminton player Scholtz

South African badminton player, Nita Scholtz. Picture: Badminton South Africa/Facebook

JOHANNESBURG - Johanita Scholtz is currently one of the highest-ranking African badminton players and hopes to continue improving her rankings so that she can qualify for the Paris 2024 Games.

"I just came back from Poland, where I went with the idea to learn from top players and to see how far I can go. I currently only have one tournament left, in Kazakhstan, and then that would be the end of my journey on the road to Paris qualifications. I honestly just want to play with freedom and enjoy these tournaments for I have put in all the work and it's all about preparation now as well," said Scholtz.

In March, at the African Games in Ghana, the 24-year-old successfully defended her women’s singles badminton title, and she became a back-to-back African Games champion after coming from behind in the final set against Uganda’s Husina Kobugani. She also won a bronze medal in the mixed doubles with Caden Kadora.

"The win of the African Games has put me back in the top two in Africa. How it works, you have to be number 1 or 2 to qualify. So, by winning, it put me way ahead of the third player, giving me a very good chance to qualify for Paris 2024."

Talking about being competitive in both the singles and doubles Scholtz said: "Playing in the singles comes naturally. It doesn’t affect me mentally it just all flows together.

"Change to doubles is a different story, it’s a different game technique, physical and mental game. The positive is, with someone, I feel calmer and in control because my partner and I are in sync and have known each other for years."

Talking to Eyewitness News, the athlete says that beyond qualifying for the Olympics, she wants to process all the emotions and take in the experiences after a long year of competing in multiple competitions.


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"This has been a long year, with great wins and a few losses but it kind of went so fast that I did not have time to adjust and feel all the emotions. So, I want to just focus on how hard I have worked for this and just give myself credit for what I already achieved. I think that would just make me reset and refocus on new goals I'm setting."

Touching on the sacrifices athletes need to make to compete at a high level, she emphasised the need to make time for loved ones and she does this by dedicating at least an hour every morning for purely video calls with loved ones.

"This gives me time to put in the effort into those around me and their lives. Without my family, this year wouldn't have been possible. They supported me through this journey and made me feel comfortable about giving everything for my dream. Then the times I'm home, I would try and do the things they want while still training but scheduling both family and sport in my days."

In February, she was part of the South African women’s badminton team that ended Mzansi’s 12-year wait in the All-Africa Men’s & Women’s Team Championships by coming from behind to defeat Uganda 3-2.

This sixth title is South Africa’s first since 2012 at the All-Africa Championships that took place in Cairo, Egypt from 12-18 February.

The athlete from the Free State won the 2021 Benin International Future Series and in 2022, she became the national champion in the women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles and represented South Africa at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

In 2019, Scholtz won gold in the women’s singles and doubles at the All-Africa Championships.