/ 8 August 2012

Viljoen hoping to reach 70m javelin mark

Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen.
Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen.

The African and national record holder in the women's javelin throw, Viljoen will hope to reach the magical mark when it counts the most in the Olympic final on Thursday night.

"I'm fast, I'm strong, I have faith, I have belief and anything is possible if you have belief," she said.

"I always told myself that I would be nominated for an Olympic medal. The first thing I wanted to achieve was to be in an Olympic final, and now anything can happen."

The 28-year-old narrowly missed the 70m barrier when she improved her own national record with a 69.39m heave at the New York Diamond League meeting in June.

She beat world record holder Barbora Spotakova, of the Czech Republic, at that meet. Spotakova, who is also the reigning Olympic champion, is one of only three women to have thrown the javelin beyond 70m, with a record throw of 72.28m.

The others are Russian world champion Mariya Abakumova and Christina Obergfoll, of Germany.

Viljoen has long been groomed for Olympic glory and made her debut at the 2004 Athens Games as a 19-year-old.

She advanced to her first Olympic final on Wednesday when she topped her qualification group with her first attempt, a distance of 65.92m.

Viljoen said it had been a relief to get the monkey of qualifying for the final off her back, and qualifying with such a good distance would be a confidence boost.

"Qualification rounds always bring another kind of pressure, but I am very happy and in Daegu I also threw a 65m in the qualifying round and I won a medal," she said.

"I take a lot of positives out of it and now I can really relax. I've never been in an Olympic final."

Viljoen said she had taken a lot of confidence out of the fact that she had beaten the leading women in the world over the last four years.

"I am just very happy that everything has come together. There are so many emotions in the Olympics itself, so much hype and vibe and tears and a lot of excitement."

The Rustenburg-based athlete said she spent time in the packed crowd at the Olympic Stadium to acquaint herself with the atmosphere.

"I am so happy that I could have done this for myself, my country and my Lord," she said.

"It's nice to have that confidence that you don't have to stand back for anyone or anything else no matter [what the] size, length or stature." – Sapa