JOHANNESBURG – South African javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen has enjoyed a 16-year international career full of highs and lows.
But now the Olympic silver medallist tries to make sense of her journey to pass on some important life lessons.
In a letter to herself she gives her thoughts from the very beginning when she was only six-years-old.
"Your will to never give up and to always be the best has been a part of you since I can remember.
"At the age of six, you stopped in the middle of a fun run and told your brother (who cheered you on) to stop because you wanted to finish on your own.
"You have always had that will to do it on your terms and you don’t need any encouragement from anyone else.
"Sunette, try to keep that inner drive to be the best because you will be fortunate to be blessed with a successful athletics career and that flame to be the best must always keep burning."
Viljoen goes on to say that ever since her first race – a 5km fun run in Klerksdorp – where she had her ‘speed wobble’ and fell down, she has always possessed the desire to succeed.
"You walked to the medal table, stood there and whispered softly... ‘I also want to win a medal’.
"Well, today you are the Olympic silver medallist and you more than made up for the one that got away at the age of seven.
"You will also have to learn that disappointments and defeats are going to be part of your sporting journey."
Viljoen also writes about the "utter disappointment" of losing out on Olympic or World Championships medals, but, continues: "I don't know anyone else who has the drive, fire and passion to stand up after a fall, who can conquer the tears and heartbreak you suffered during various points in your career.
"You have the heart and fighting spirit to keep going, no matter what life throws at you. You will find that you will throw a spear for life."
"You had that belief and dream since you were small. You will also have to learn that life can be hard, life can be tough, it is not always easy out there, but God made you in a very special way and he chose you to be his soldier on and off the field.
"My 'bigger' advice is: never let go of that fire, drive, fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude because in life champions never give up and never surrender until they get what they want.
Viljoen concludes by saying: "Keep going no matter how hard the climb. Remember: the view from the top is always the best."