If you haven’t stayed up late – or gotten up painfully early – to watch the 2016 Rio Olympics yet, then tonight might be a good chance to start as two of South Africa’s top female athletes prepare to make their marks.
Caster Semenya is due to race in the semi-finals early Friday morning after she ran a well-controlled race on Thursday, attacking on the final bend to take the lead and win her 800m heat in 1min 59.31sec.
Many observers insist Semenya, the world No1 this year, will add another gold to South Africa’s haul of seven medals – one gold, five silver and a bronze.
That medal tally may increase by the time Semenya runs in the final, as Viljoen fights for top spot in the women’s javelin throw at the same time. Viljoen‚ competing at her fourth Games‚ launched her missile beyond the required 63m mark to automatically qualify on Thursday.
Her 63.54m in the evening qualifying round was third in her group‚ behind Sara Kolak of Croatia (64.30) and Tatsiana Khaladovich of Belarus (63.78m) and sixth overall.
Viljoen was happy to fly under the radar. “I felt so relaxed … the javelin came out well and when I saw 63.54 I was very happy. It’s comforting to feel you’re not the big‚ big favourite‚ and to go into the final as a little bit of an underdog is nice‚” said Viljoen‚ 32.
In London four years ago‚ Viljoen‚ then the world No1‚ had the third-longest throw in qualifying‚ but was unable to match that distance in the final‚ where she ended in a heart-breaking fourth.
Catch it live:
Caster Semenya – 800metre semi-final race 3 at 2.30am.
Sunette Viljoen – women’s javelin throw at 2.10am.