National 17.8.2016 06:01 am

Convincing start for Viljoen

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16:  Sunette Viljoen of South Africa competes during the Women's Javelin Throw Qualifying Round on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Sunette Viljoen of South Africa competes during the Women's Javelin Throw Qualifying Round on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)

Sunette Viljoen got her Olympic campaign off to a superb start in the early hours of Wednesday morning, needing just one attempt to book her place in the women’s javelin throw final at the Rio Games.

The two-time World Championships bronze medallist, who narrowly lost out on a podium place when she finished fourth at the London showpiece in 2012, launched a 63.54m effort as her first throw sailed 54 centimetres beyond the automatic qualifying mark.

“It’s very comforting to know you’re not the big favourite, and it’s nice to go into the final as a bit of an underdog,” Viljoen said ahead of the medal contest, which was considered wide open.

“The javelin this year is very open, so there’s not one lady you can pinpoint and say she is a medal winner for sure.

“I’d rather have that than have huge expectations on myself, and from the country.”

Meanwhile, hurdlers LJ van Zyl and Wenda Nel, both among the leading contenders to secure their positions in the last eight, were unable to progress beyond the semifinals of the 400m event over the barriers after both went out hard and faded down the home straight.

Van Zyl finished fifth in his race in 49.00 and Nel ended sixth in her penultimate round battle in 55.83.

Antonio Alkana was also knocked out in the semifinals of the men’s 100m hurdles, crossing the line in seventh spot in his race in 13.55.

Long jumper Lynique Prinsloo struggled to compete at the highest level on Olympic debut, and though she delivered her best leap of 6.10m in the third and final qualifying round, she too was unable to progress.

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