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Rampant Van Rooyen makes his point at Green Point
- Updated: May 24, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
South African sport has a new spear of the nation… and Rocco van Rooyen can take a bow after becoming the country’s fourth best javelin thrower at Green Point on Saturday.
The 22-year-old from Kuilsriver pulled a rabbit out of his hat at the brand new athletics venue as he launched the javelin a huge 85.39 metres with his final effort.
And the amazing thing is that until the very last minute he wasn’t even going to compete and it was a spur of the moment decision.
He now slots in behind 1998 Commonwealth Games champion Marius Corbett (88.75), Tom Petranoff (87.26 in 1992) and Robert Ooshuizen’s 86.80, seven years ago.
Part of Team SA at the Zone 6 Games in Swaziland back in 2009, an ecstatic Van Rooyen told Road to Rio 2016:’ It still feels like I’m dreaming. I had a restful week leading up to the event because I didn’t even think I was going to compete as my knee was a bit sore. So I wasn’t prepared at all mentally. And then that one throw has changed my life as I know it!’
Van Rooyen has had to battle many an injury down the years. but at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 he went to Finland, home of javelin, to get a better idea of what the throwing sport is all about.
‘From last year when I could start throwing properly again it went much better.’
Until now it’s been the angle of release that has been his biggest problem but what changed yesterday.
‘Today something just clicked. When I threw, because I wanted to put less stress on the knee, something changed in my technique that also helped my release angle.
‘Next thing I knew I had two personal bests in the bag which puts me fourth in the world this year and also qualifies me for World Championships in Beijing, China later this year (82m) and Rio Olympics next year (83m).’
Before yesterday’s volcanic activity his best was 80.56m two weeks ago at the South African Open in Potchefstroom.
It will also see him heading off for Diamond League action, the first of which will be in New York next month.
Speaking on the actual throw (after he had opened with a personal best 81.45) he said: ‘It didn’t even feel so good, that’s the amazing thing. I thought it was around 80m but as the crowd started going mad then I started realising it was something special. I really enjoyed throwing at the new stadium.
So what’s next for the self-coached product of Bellville Höerskool?
‘Well I’ve resigned from my job to give myself a 100% chance to concentrate on athletics for the rest of the year.’
Here’s hoping the sky’s the limit for the newest find of SA field athletics. One thing’s for sure, the track may be blue at Green Point but Van Rooyen’s mood for the next while will be anything but blue…