LONDON - Considered one of South Africa’s brightest sprinting prospects, Justine Palframan lost her shine last year but she was feeling bullish about her future starting at the World Championships in London.
The World University Games 400m champion was initially left out of the South African team despite meeting the IAAF qualification in the 200m with a personal best time of 22.84 seconds.
While the time signalled Palframan’s return to form, it was not good enough for Athletics South Africa’s tougher standards, which required a time of 22.65.
“It wasn’t my goal from the beginning of the year, I wanted to go to the World Student Games and take it from there because I started with a new coach and we wanted to just build my confidence up again,” Palfrman said.
“There is always some disappointment because you always have that hope but although I had done the time it was a case of let’s see what happens,”
The 23-year-old earned her place in the world championship team courtesy of the women’s 4x400m really team qualifying for the global showpiece.
Palframan said an exhausting racing calendar in 2015, which included the World Student Games, the World Championships in Beijing, and the African Games, chipped away at her love for the sport.
Instead of taking a break, Palframan went straight into her preparations for the Rio Olympic Games, which resulted in poor performances where she battled to break through the 53-second barrier in the 400m.
“After last year, my confidence dropped a lot. I wasn’t enjoying running, so we just wanted to build enjoyment and see what happens,” Palframan said.
“So, just having fun and enjoying what I was doing, the times came as well which was very exciting.”
Palframan has since joined renowned coach Dr Suzanne Ferreira, who mentored five medallists at last year’s Paralympics.
The three-time South African champion said the focus at the championships was to finish her championships with a smile .
“What I am working on this year is to smile after the race, so if I do a really bad time or a really good time I just want to smile,” Palframan said.
“For me just finishing the race, and just being happy about whatever happens, I think that would be nice.
“Then, whatever comes from that, if I am feeling strong, and I ran a perfect bend and a perfect start the time will come.”
Palframan said she was buoyed by the performances of her disabled training partners at their world championships where they posted personal best times.
“(Peaking) here is the plan, I’ve done all the work and I’ve now watched my training partners and the times they were doing and I know where I am compared to them. So I know if they can do it there is nothing stopping me from doing it.”