Viljoen won't stop fighting for SA athletes

2016-08-23 14:20
Sunette Viljoen (Chris Kotze, SASPA)

Cape Town - There are very few that have been as outspoken as Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen when it comes to bringing the issue of funding for South Africa's athletes to light.

Viljoen, who finished second in the women's javelin at the Rio Olympics, is a part of SASCOC's Operation Excellence (OPEX) programme, but according to Eyewitness News she says she has not been paid since February this year. 

SASCOC president Gideon Sam has denied those claims, but it was clear on Tuesday that the war of words between Viljoen and SASCOC is far from over. 

Having bagged R200 000 for her Olympic success, Viljoen and the other Team South Africa silver medallists received a bonus on Tuesday when they were informed that they would be receiving an additional R70 000 each. 

Viljoen, though, was doubtful as she took to Twitter to voice her concerns. 

Speaking at the athletes village in Rio the day after winning silver, Viljoen said she would never slow down in her quest to ensure that South Africa's athletes get what they deserve. 

"I'm a firm believer in standing up for what you believe in," Viljoen said.

"I won't change ... I will do what is right and I will keep fighting (for the athletes) and to get the best for the athletes."

Viljoen hoped that the performance of the South African athletes in Rio would kick-start an interest in youngsters wanting to become Olympians. 

"This is the best that Team SA has done at the Olympic Games. We've shown a lot of talent and we must just keep that talent," she said.

"We need to keep developing them and the most important thing is for the athletes to have the drive to keep going.

"We need to put the right structures in place for athletes to want to be an Olympian."

Now 32, Viljoen is eyeing the IAAF World Championships in London in 2017 and the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia before she even contemplates retirement. 

"My drive and my passion is too much to give up. I still enjoy what I do and I enjoy throwing the javelin too much. I will know when I wake up and don't want to train anymore," she said.

"I want to be a world champion."

But with a clear passion for the development of athletics in the country, could there be an administrative role awaiting Viljoen in the future?

"I really want to do something like that because I know how it feels to be in the athlete's position," she said.

"To be in a position where I can make it better and easier for athletes and help them along the way, with all of my experience, I would love to do that."

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