Pitcher a step closer to Olympic dream

Athlone Athletics pitcher, Dean Jacobs, hopes to help South Africa qualify for next years Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Athlone Athletics Baseball Club pitcher Dean Jacobs is edging a step closer to his dream of playing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The player from Ottery is part of the national side that includes several Cape-based players.

Team SA took a giant step towards their Olympic dream by winning last month’s Africa Games in Johannesburg.

The games, which featured teams from the south, north and east regions of the continent, formed part of the Olympic qualifying process.

The side proved just why they are one of the best, if not the best, in Africa by showing no mercy to their opponents. They beat Uganda, Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe in the preliminary rounds.

Those victories saw them setting up another date with Burkina Faso, this time in the semis.

And, once again, as favourites, South Africa, who are sitting just outside the top 20 in the world rankings, proved too good for the West Africans, recording a 16-12 win.

They were not done yet and went on to beat Uganda 28-0 in the final to book a spot in the next round of qualifiers.

This time the team will travel to Bologna, Italy, to take part in the Europe-Africa leg of the qualifiers, as the sole representatives of the African continent.

Their opponents, this time will be even tougher and will include some of the finest in Europe. The tournament runs from Wednesday September 18 and Sunday September 22.

Jacobs, who has three international caps, made his debut in 2016, during the World Baseball Classics tournament, in Australia.

That was followed by another cap, when South Africa beat France during last year’s seven-match Friendship Series, which included three matches in Durbanville.

Jacobs, 27, is convinced he is still going to add many more caps to that tally.

He spent 16 of his 19 years in the game at Silvertree before joining Athletics three seasons ago. And he proved to be a revelation for the Parktown-based outfit, producing impressive performances in the process.

And he was, once again in the national team fold.

Jacobs said last month’s qualifier might have been a walk in the park, but there were still lessons for SA to take home.

“Yes, it was not really tough in terms of getting the results, but in terms of our development as individuals and a team, the experience was great.

“So, we knew we still had to work hard, especially on our concentration levels,” he said.

“Another thing that made things difficult for us it that we don’t really have enough time to train together as a team because some of the guys are based in Johannesburg while others are based in Cape Town.”

He said the team had made it their mission to get to Tokyo.

“We know what we are up to in the Europe-Africa round of qualifiers. The opposition will be completely different, and we have to be on our toes.

“The last time we qualified for the Olympic Games was a long time ago,” he said.

He said Baseball SA was a self-funded organisation and each player is required to raise between R20 000 and R25 000 for the trip to Italy.

Anyone willing to help Jacobs can call him on 061 679 9254.