The singular mind of Sunette Viljoen

21 July 2016 - 09:29 By DAVID ISAACSON


Sunette Viljoen is throwing the javelin shorter distances than she did in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics, and she has since then fought and had rocky relations with her family and sports officialdom. But the 32-year-old veteran insists she is in a better space now heading into the Rio Games."I've grown emotionally over the last four years," Viljoen, who ended a painful fourth in 2012, said in e-mailed responses."This year I am not tense or worried about results. My head and body are in complete harmony."Four years ago Viljoen was No1 in the world with her 69.35m all-Africa record going into the London Games; at the moment her season's best - 65.14m - puts her in sixth position.Two of the 2012 Olympic medallists are ranked ahead of her.Champion Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic holds the 66.87m world lead and bronze medallist Linda Stahl, the German who pushed Viljoen off the podium, is just 11cm ahead of Viljoen. Mother-of-one Viljoen has been at odds with her family over her decision to announce in 2013 that she was gay. Last year she criticised the SA Olympic Committee for its claims-based method of funding top athletes and also accused her brother and father of hitting her. "I'm going into these Olympic Games without support from my family, and knowing I've done everything myself just motivates me even more."I will put the unpleasantness behind me and I am tougher and more motivated. I haven't had financial support [from Sascoc] since February," she added.Viljoen ascribed her longevity to motivation. "I have been born with incredible passion and drive - it is something that can only come from God. I don't know how to give up, only how to persevere."Knowing you are among the world's best javelin throwers is strong motivation to be the best and become Olympic champion. It is the only medal I still need."If I fall, I always get up again."Viljoen said a podium position in Rio was her ultimate goal. "It would be the perfect ending for all the years in which I invested everything. If I reap the fruits, I would know it has all been worth it, including the biggest battle I have had to fight off the field in the past four years."

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