Claudia Viljoen - African Junior Champion

Posted on June 13, 2008

 

Nevertheless Claudia felt confident she would be part of the team to go to the World Junior Championships after being the only athlete to go sub 14sec in the 100m hurdles this year. Her 13.88sec at the Yellow Pages Meeting in Germiston and then 13.80sec at LC De Villiers on 28 March at the SA Student Championships should have been good enough for the 19 year old to be selected. Sadly the powers that be did not agree.

So when she was selected to compete at the Southern Region Junior Championships in Harare over the weekend of the 7 and 8 June and was told this was another chance to secure her place in the World Junior Team, she grabbed it with open arms. Claudia won both her heat and final with ease running 14.36sec in the heat and 14.14sec in the final.

“I just wanted to qualify in the heats to be able to relax in the final. But the wind was gusting all over the place and that made it a bit difficult; so I ran hard again in the final just to make sure.”

For Claudia it was touch and go to be able to compete so soon at this level after injuring her knee at the SA Senior Championships in Stellenbosch in March. She tore the fleece under the patella of her knee when she connected with the hurdle in her semi-final race. “I should already have had an operation but did not want to miss out on the possibility of competing at the World Junior Championships, so I have postponed it for now.” Under the watchful eye of Coach Nico Van Heerden and her gym coach Ignacious “Naat” Loubscher, Claudia underwent rehab at the Pretoria University High Performance Centre.

Claudia is fortunate enough to share a sports house with the likes of Amanda Kotze right next to the campus as part of her bursary. It makes getting to training, be it at the gym at the High Performance Centre or the track of LC De Villiers, easy and convenient.

For Claudia the World Junior Championships will be her 3rd major international competition having competed at the 2006 ISF World Championships in Greece and at the Africa Junior Championships in 2007. At the ISF Games she picked up an injury and at the Africa Junior Championships she fell ill. Claudia is hoping that the World Junior Championships will be third time lucky for her and she is able to perform at her best. Coach Nico Van Heerden is optimistic about his young protégé, but sees her future in a different event. He, like a number of other athletics experts, believe that ultimately she will be a far better 400mh than the 100mh she currently races in. Her father was a 400mh Northern Transvaal athlete, so there may just be something in that theory.

 

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