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Gold for Viljoen
- Updated: August 18, 2011
By Mark Etheridge
Commonwealth champion Sunette Viljoen warmed up for the World Championships in spectacular fashion with an African record┬á and the gold medal in the javelin at the World Student Games in Shenzhen, China on Thursday.
Viljoen, 28, threw a personal best 66.47 metres with her first legal┬á throw to seal the title. She won by a staggering 6.60-metre margin.
And making things even better for Team South Africa was the fact that fellow Potchefstroom athlete Justine Robbeson took the bronze medal in 59.78, just 9cm behind runner-up Marina Maximova of Russia.
Viljoen also had one other effort over 60m, the 60.36 she threw on her penultimate attempt.
Victory means that Viljoen succesfully defends the title she won two years ago in Belgrade, Croatia where she won in 65.43. And her winning throw rockets up to seventh in the world this season and is a huge boost to her medal chances at the World Championships in Daegu, South Korea later this month.
Only three other women have thrown further than her this year. Her best effort last year was the 66.38 she thew in Prague.
Her best effort of the year before Thursday was the 61.74 she threw in Paris last month.
In other South Africans in action on Thursday, Pharson Magagane lead for four-fifths of the men’s 1500-metre final before fading to last place at the World Student Games in Shenzhen, China on Thursday.
Magagane, 25, took the field through 400m in 62.96, two laps in 2:10.41 and the 1200m mark in 3:09.61 before the field swallowed him up in the final dash for the line.
The South African finally ended with a time of 3min 53.81sec in a race won that saw a 1-2 finish for Algerian twins Imad and Abdelmadjed Touial. Imad won in 3:48.13 with Abdelmadjed second just 0.11sec adrift.
Third place went to Russia’s Valentin Smirnov in 3:48.45. An indication of the closeness of the finish can be seen by the fact that just 0.68sec separated the first five finishers.
Wenda Theron took fifth spot in the final of the women’s 400m hurdles with a time of 56.76 as Ukraine’s Anna Yaroschchuk won in 55.15.
Free State’s Thuso Mpuang ended round two of the men’s 200m as joint fourth fastest qualifer after running 20.91sec. Rapula Sefanyetso failed to progress after a 21.28 finish. “The hamstring’s giving me a few problems so it’s mind over matter now,” said Mpuang.
Meanwhile PC Beneke failed to make the final of the men’s 400m hurdles. He ran 50.82 to miss out on the final by 0.75sec.
In the women’s 200 South Africa had two athletes progressing into the next round after Stacey Gardiner and Sonja van der Merwe both went through.
Gardiner’s 24.34 and Van der Merwe’s 24.35 were 16th and 17th fastest qualifiers respectively into the second round (both third in their heats). Fastest was Portugal’s Sonia Tavares in 23.75.
However, only Van der Merwe went through to the semis after round two of action. She ran 24.00 to qualify 15th of 16 semi-finalists while Gardiner was fastest non-qualifier despite running a personal best of 24.13 for consolation.