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Javelin stars in action

Two-time Commonwealth Games javelin champion, Sunette Viljoen opens her 2011 season in front of her home crowd in Potchefstroom at the first Yellow Pages Athletics Series meeting on Saturday.

Viljoen will have some stiff competition from the likes of her training partner and former African record holder, Justine Robbeson as well as 2007 World Youth and 2010 World Junior Champion, Tazmin Brits.

Viljoen, Commonwealth champion in 2006 and last year, had one of her most consistent season’s in 2010 with regular throws landing beyond 63 metres and of the 15 meets competed in, she won nine. The big breakthrough for Viljoen was in Prague at the Odlozil meeting where broke her own African record. Her 66.38m ranked her seventh in the World in 2010 and 15th on the World All time list.

With a long season ahead, World Championships, World Student Championships and the Diamond League, coach Tertius Liebenberg is cautiously optimistic about 2011, he does however warn not expect any mammoth throws from his three charges in Potchefstroom

ÔÇ£It is the first meeting of the season, so we cannot expect the girls to come out with a big effort. In training the girls have been hitting around 55-60m and all three are very close together in their performances, so I expect a very tough competition. It could come down to the last throw to see who will emerge as the winner on the day.ÔÇØ

Robbeson is busy with her masters in nutrition and human movement sciences at the North-West University in Potchefstroom and has battled to find the time for both academia and competition. Nevertheless the former World junior heptathlon champion was able to bring back the silver medal from the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India in 2010.

Viljoen and Robbeson have met 38 times since 2004, and whilst Robbeson holds the edge of 20 wins to the 18 of Viljoen, it has been the latter who in recent years has had the better results, mainly due to be able to stay injury free and also due to Robbesons study commitments. Viljoen at the age of 27 is also hitting her prime as a javelin thrower.

Both have had their injury scares coming into the competition, Viljoen having badly hurt a toe on her left foot in the latter stages of 2010 and Robbeson has ankle worries. For Viljoen the injury was a set- back as it is the left foot, the blocking foot, that had the injury and it still does niggle at times.

Robbeson’s ankle, although healed, has cost her valuable training time. This has levelled the playing fields, and with Britz breathing down the two stars’ necks, Potchefstroom ÔÇô the home of javelin throwing ÔÇô can expect a huge tussle between the trio.

Competition starts at 2pm in Potchefstroom, but tickets at a cost of R20 can be purchased at the gates, which open at 11am. The first 700 fans to enter the venues will each receive a complimentary Yellow Pages sporty hat. The glamorous ASA calendar, which features some of South Africa’s top athletes, will also be on sale at the venue for R80.


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