Still floored by the tragic murder of Commonwealth championships gold medallist Preston Davids‚ SA judo has suffered a second blow to the solar plexus.
Another 2016 Commonwealth Championships gold medallist Earl Blake has died after being electrocuted in the Eastern Cape.
Like Davids‚ the youngster had also won multiple NRE (National Ranking Events) competitions during his short career on the mat. He would have turned 21 later in 2020.
And while Davids’ death earlier in August came at the hands of gangsterism in Bellville South‚ Cape Town‚ Blake’s passing was a by-product of another scourge of modern-day South African society – that of a lack of housing and municipal services.
David’s older sister Desiree from Booysen Park‚ Port Elizabeth‚ explained: “Earl was walking across a field on the way to some shops‚ there were a few people who had set up camp in the field‚ informal shacks and dwellings.
“Someone called him‚ he turned around to answer — and in the corner of his eye he saw a piece of wire across his path‚ and grabbed it instinctively. It was an illegal high-powered electricity connection and he was killed.”
Blake‚ herself a national-class judoka‚ and who won Team SA’s first medal (in the under-57kg division) at the Region Five Games in Bulawayo‚ Zimbabwe six years ago‚ said her brother will be sorely missed.
“He was such a shining little star. He was the light in everyone’s life. The type of person who one could never get mad at. And in turn‚ he was just the same. He would never get mad with anyone‚ he’d always turn the other cheek.”
It was actually through her late brother that Desiree‚ now aged 24‚ first took up judo.
“I used to go and look after him and then gradually started doing judo myself.”
She says Earl‚ who won under-55kg gold at Commonwealth Championships‚ was not only well-versed in judo skills.
“He was also a very good footballer and went on a few club tours to Europe.”
Health issues put a hold on his sports career.
“He was diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia and struggled with that issue but once he was on the right level of medication he was fine‚ from about two years ago.
“He was starting to get back into both his judo and football‚ but now this…”
Blake‚ who was busy enrolling for a course at Siyaya College in Port Elizabeth before the Covid-19 pandemic slowed things down‚ leaves his sister‚ a younger sibling and both his parents‚ who‚ along with South African sport‚ mourn another talent taken.
He also leaves an 18-month old child of his own.