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Van Rooyen hoping to bounce back into Olympic contention after surprise throw
- Updated: July 7, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Olympic javelin hopeful Rocco van Rooyen has been thrown a lifeline as he bids to confirm his place on Team South Africa for the Rio Olympics.
After bursting on to the big-time stage with a huge heave of 85.39 metres at the new Green Point Stadium in May last year, the Cape Town thrower went into a horrible slump of form, losing his rhythm and also picking up a long-term elbow injury.
That big Green Point throw was enough to qualify him for the Olympics he’d still need to convince Athletics South Africa (ASA) of his form and fitness this year.
As such, he decided on one final throw of the dice (well javelin in his case) this week.
Turning out on his training track he unleashed a beast of a throw and judging by the chalked white lines of the rugby field.
‘I knew it was a big one,’ he told Road to Rio 2016. ‘I also pretty much know exactly how far a metre is while walking. But I rushed off to buy a measuring tape in any case.
‘A person can also feel right away if it’s a great throw, one learns to judge.’ When he got back to the field, Van Rooyen was delighted to find it measuring out at 77.7 metres.
Not bad going for someone who has been battling to hit the 60m mark in recent times.
‘Maybe at last there’s a bit of light at the end of the tunnel,’ he said. ‘This whole year the elbow has been too sore to really train and and then I can reach 60m and have to give up. The problem is scar tissue built up after last year’s injury has meant that the nerves and things are being pressed in areas that aren’t supposed to be affected.
‘The specialist said I must try and push through the pain but I haven’t been able to till now. Until this week. I said to myself: “Flip, the Olympics are just around the corner and I NEVER give up. So I used a motivational sermon from Sunday’s church service and just gave it my all.”
‘Suddenly I was able to push through the pain and the throws just got better and better. And the feeling is all coming back too. Now I’m really hungry to compete again and give my all, come back from nowhere and make that Olympic team.’
Top Finnish javelin coach Kari Ihalainen was impressed with Van Rooyen’s refound form after seeing a video taken of Van Rooyen’s throw. ‘And if he’s saying I look good then I get excited because he’s normally anything but optimistic.
‘He told me: “throw far, good angle, and be crazy”.
Now Van Rooyen will take part in a small meeting in Parow on Saturday to see if he can once again land a big one, with the official qualifying distance of 83.00m being the carrot for him to aim at.
‘It’s going to be chilly weather but I don’t mind, I’ll take part wearing a hoodie if need be and even light a fire next to the track,’ he joked.
After Saturday he’ll head off to Finland for a competition early next week in a further attempt to cement his new-found form.