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Sunette eyes London as Caster cruises

Athletics

POTCHEFSTROOM – Watch out London, Sunette Viljoen is not done with you. The Olympic silver medallist is ready to exact her revenge on the British capital after qualifying for the IAAF World Championships that is set to be held in the city in August.

The Olympic silver medallist Viljoen opened her season with a heave of 62.82 metres to book her place for the global showpiece.

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Sunette Viljoen qualified for the world championships in her first competition of the season. Photo: Gavin Barker, BackpagePixIt was the unusual distance of 3 000m for Caster Semenya on Wednesday, but she produced a new personal best. Photo: Mike Egerton, PAAkani Simbine said he was “pretty happy” with his 200m performance. Photo: David Gray, Reuters

Now she can set her eyes on the place where she narrowly missed out on a medal at the 2012 Games.

“I’m very happy with that. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and it is all coming together now, so it is really good to qualify for the worlds at my first meeting,” Viljoen said.

“I was very motivated after Rio to see all the support of the people of South Africa, and what my Olympic medal had meant to the country, it just gave me more motivation for my training.”

Viljoen was resolute in her aim to finally banish the memory of the 2012 London Games, where she finished in fourth place.

“I am really looking forward to go back to London, where my biggest disappointment was in the London Olympic Stadium,” she said.

“That has been the motivation behind my training, to go back there, to turn that disappointment around and into something positive and really beautiful.

“There is also no more special place to win a world championships medal.”

Olympic women’s 800m champion Caster Semenya also opened her season on a good note, clocking a personal best in a rare 3 000m race.

Using the race almost as a distance training session, Semenya kicked over the final 200m, with Kesa Molotsane grittily hanging on for second place.

Semenya crossed the line in a new personal best time of nine minutes, 36.29 seconds (9:36.29) by almost 20 seconds in only her second race over this distance.

“The distance is a bit long for me. I’m used to running under two minutes on the track, then go home. This was part of my training, focusing more on the mileage because I am more than a month behind on my schedule,” Semenya said.

“This was part of my training, so I just need to improve… I was quite surprised about the time. I never even do this in training.”

It was the unusual distance of 3 000m for Caster Semenya on Wednesday, but she ran a new personal best. Photo: Mike Egerton, PA

Short sprint sensation Akani Simbine won the 200m, beating Botswana one-lap ace Isaac Makwala, with South Africa junior record holder Clarence Munyai crossing in third place.

Simbine posted a time of 20.32, with Makwela following behind him in 20.62 and Munyai biting at his heels in 20.67.

“It felt very easy today. I thought I was getting sick on Monday, so I told myself I was still going to run and do just enough to win,” Simbine said.

“I thought, ‘let me just work the bend and ease off in the rest of the race’, so I am pretty happy.”

Meanwhile, world bronze medallist LJ van Zyl suffered a rare defeat against fellow Olympian Le Roux Hamman in his opening 400m hudes race of the season.

Hamman crossed the line in a time of 49.70, with Van Zyl finishing second with 49.99, while Constant Pretorius bagged the bronze in 50.68.

Independent Media

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