South African javelin throw queen Sunette Viljoen has made a successful return from injury, meeting the qualifying mark for next year’s Commonwealth Games at an Athletics Gauteng North league meeting in Pretoria on Saturday.
The meeting served as one of the last opportunities for South African athletes to qualify for the quadrennial showpiece in the Gold Coast, Australia.
Viljoen made her return for the first time since she was forced to withdraw from the IAAF World Championships due to a back injury.
She met the qualifying standard on her second attempt with a heave of 60.84 metres which is almost three metres short of her season’s best in April.
It was an otherwise fruitless day for the rest of the athletes that travelled from across South Africa in their pursuit of Commonwealth Games qualification.
Athletics SA (ASA) has given athletes a window between the beginning of August and the end of the year to qualify with only two meetings in Cape Town this month left.
Although world 200m bronze medallist Anaso Jobodwana has already made the preliminary squad in the 100m, he made a last-gasp attempt at meeting the mark in his specialist half-lap sprint.
The former 200m national record-holder produced an impressive 100-200m double on the same track last month.
He clocked a season’s best 10.16-second 100m and a wind-aided 20.10 time in the 200m at that meeting.
While it is possible for South Africa to also enter Jobodwana for the 200m or allow him to set the mark in the build-up to the Games, it is not something he should leave up to chance.
Jobodwana has burnt his fingers in the past when ASA entered him for the 100m at the World Championships even though he requested only to race the 200m and was subsequently forced to false-start.
Yesterday he slipped getting out of the blocks in the 200m race, finishing second behind Luxolo Adams, who won in a time of 20.51 with Jobodwana crossing in 20.85.
“I just have to hope (that he is selected for the 200m) and see if I can run it later on because I’ve had bad luck both times,” Jobodwana said.
“We’ll see but as long as I qualify and at the moment it looks like I will make my first Commonwealth team so I am happy about that.”
Jobodwana said he was feeling bullish about the upcoming season considering the times he is posting this time of the year.
“It is still December and you are never ready at this time, so I am optimistic about what I can do in April (at the Commonwealth Games) at Diamond Leagues and hopefully I can qualify for African champs,” Jobodwana said.
Former African long-jump record holder Khotso Mokoena lined up for the triple jump but just missed the qualifying mark with a best jump of 16.55m.
Justine Palframan and Gena Lofstrand, who featured at the world championships, have had to manage with only two weeks of rest before starting pre-season training.
Lofstrand stopped the clock almost three seconds short of the qualifying mark of 2:01.60 in her specialist 800m event. The former South African champion missed the selection criteria by 0.13sec in her heat at the World Championships in London.
“Now I’m trying to get back into shape quickly but it has been quite tough, I’m not going to lie, but I’m pretty happy with my racing today,” Lofstrand said.
“I felt quite strong and I know I can go faster over the next few weeks so I am hoping for the best.”
Former World Student Games 400m women’s champion Justine Palframan won her 200m race with a time of 23.29, well short of her personal best of 22.84 posted in July.