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Watching London transform for the Olympic Games, as a resident of the English capital for the last six years, Willem Coertzen vowed to participate at this year's global sporting showpiece.
The South African decathlon record-holder's inclusion in the 125-member Olympic team on Wednesday was a dream come true and a welcome relief after Coertzen's name was initially omitted from the provisional squad.
“Because I've been here (in London) for six years and saw everything going up from scratch it is very close to my heart,” Coertzen said on Friday.
“I always travelled past there by train, and I told myself that in 2012 I would compete in that stadium.
“It will almost feel like home town advantage.”
Coertzen qualified at the SA Athletics Championships in Port Elizabeth in April where he improved his national record in his specialist event by amassing a total of 8 244 points and reaching the Olympic standard of 8 200.
However, when the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced a 112-member provisional team for the global showpiece, Coertzen's name was not on the list.
“It felt like my dream was taken away from me and I got the news a day before I competed in my second decathlon of the year,” Coertzen said.
“It did not work out well for me as I did everything out of frustration while the weather was also bad.”
He subsequently pulled out of the competition in Kladno, Czech Republic, after seven of the 10 events, as his Olympic dream was seemingly shattered.
“I'm not going to lie, I went through a bit of a dip and it hit me a bit mentally,” he said.
“Training did not go well but I am back on track again and I am ready.”
Coertzen's dark cloud proved to hold a silver lining, though, and he was finally named in the team earlier this week.
“I am really happy. It has been one of my biggest goals to go to the Olympic Games, so I am over the moon,” he said.
“All the hard word and sacrifice has been worth it.”
The 29-year-old said his preparation was on track but he was doing better in some disciplines than others.
“Everything is moving in the right direction and must come together on those two days that we are competing,” he said.
The nature of the gruelling decathlon event made it difficult to predict what he would achieve at the Games, but he hoped to finish in the top eight.
He added that the atmosphere in London was building towards a climax and he expected an electric atmosphere at the Games.
“You can almost feel it floating in the air,” Coertzen said.
“Everybody is getting excited about it and it will be a great experience which I am really looking forward to.” – Sapa