Marlise van Tonder, who graduated from the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department in May, has qualified to go to the Tokyo Olympics as a reserve on the South African field hockey team, as announced by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. As she wrote to MIE Department Head Sundar Krishnamurty, “I appreciate the support UMass has given me during the buildup towards the Games.” She will be traveling to Tokyo with the team and staying with Team South Africa in the Olympic Village.
As van Tonder said about going to the Olympics, “Being selected as part of the team to go to Tokyo is a dream come true. The reality of going is finally starting to sink in and I'm incredibly excited to be part of this special event.”
In addition, van Tonder sent the following message to all the MIE faculty: “I have been selected as one of the traveling reserves and will be going to Tokyo with Team SA…Between time zone differences, matches and training camps during the semester, concussions, and the unpredictability that is SA hockey, you have made it that much easier for me to balance academics and hockey by being understanding and supportive. Thank you for making it possible and for moving the mountains you did. I truly appreciate it!”
The South African Women are in Group A of the tournament and start their campaign on July 24 against Ireland. Their second game will take place two days later against Great Britain, with Netherlands awaiting 48 hours after that. It will then be a quick turnaround between match four against Germany on July 30 and match five against India just 24 hours later.
South African Women’s Head Coach Robin van Ginkel was pleased with the squad: “The year that we have had extra as a result of the postponement has been a massive positive for us in growth. Our energy has been revived and I truly believe we are in a better position than we would have been a year ago. We are ready to take on the Olympic Games and so excited to be able to share our squad today.”
As van Ginkel also noted, “We went through a rigorous selection process and came across the team that is what we believe is the right combination to make South Africa proud.” (July 2021)