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Viljoen's silver banishes London demons

2016-08-19 07:00
Sunette Viljoen (Getty)

Rio de Janeiro - Sunette Viljoen's Olympic silver medal in the javelin on Thursday night (Friday morning, SA time) means she can finally move on from the disappointment of finishing fourth in London four years ago. 

On that dreadful day, Viljoen watched on as Germany's Linda Stahl moved into the bronze medal position with her final throw, pushing Viljoen out of the medals. 

But on Thursday night (Friday morning SA time) Viljoen made sure that she would have her moment on an Olympic podium. 

Her very first throw of 64.92m was her best, and for a while it looked it would be enough to bag gold. 

But it was not to be.

Croatia's Sara threw 66.18m to win, but Viljoen was thrilled with the result nonetheless as she celebrated at the Olympic Stadium with the South African flag wrapped around her neck. 

Finally the demons of London have been laid to rest.

"I feel so overwhelmed. I was so close to the gold medal ... it was right there until the end," she said afterwards.

"To win a silver, I couldn’t ask for more after London. To come back after four years and to keep fighting ... I couldn’t have asked for more.

"For a whole four years I’ve been praying and asking to be the Olympic champion. To come so close ... I tried and tried and tried and I got the silver." 

As elated as Viljoen is with silver, her competitive nature means that coming so close to a win does sting a little.

"I wanted to win. I wanted to throw further than that 66m that was leading because I know I have it in my arm to throw big throws," Viljoen said.

"I wanted to throw a bit further because I had huge warm-up throws.

"The competition takes so long to start with the medal ceremonies and you cool down a bit. To stay focused for a long time is the biggest challenge." 

While she did her best to block London out of her mind, there was a brief moment in the final round when Viljoen had a sense of déjà vu. 

"My heart started to pump in the last round because if I had to lose a medal again in the last round I don’t know ... but luckily it didn’t happen," Viljoen recalled.

"London was never in my mind. It was a whole new Olympic Games."

"I think it will sink in a little bit later." 

Viljoen added that her long-term aim now was to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in 2018.

Lloyd Burnard is Sport24's correspondent in Rio de Janeiro for the duration of the 2016 Olympics ...

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