Athletics 21.6.2017 03:10 pm

Local legend Willem Coertzen calls it a day

Willem Coertzen has waved goodbye. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

Willem Coertzen has waved goodbye. Photo: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images.

The 34-year-old holds the national decathlon record but injuries have plagued him the past few years.

National decathlon record holder Willem Coertzen called time on his competitive career on Wednesday, three days after signing off with a solid performance at a Combined Events Challenge meeting on the European circuit.

“It’s been a great adventure in my life with so many memories that’s absolutely priceless,” Coertzen said in a statement on social media.

“Got to meet awesome people and travel the world making everlasting friends.”

A silver medallist at the 2008 African Championships in Addis Ababa, Coertzen finished ninth at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 World Championships.

He broke the SA record for the first time in the gruelling 10-discipline event in 2008, and the following season he became the first South African to break the 8 000-point barrier.

Though he ultimately extended his national record to 8 398 points in Gotzis in May 2015, Coertzen struggled with injuries which virtually derailed the last few years of his career.

He was unable to finish the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World Championships, the 2016 Olympic Games and the last two editions of the African Championships.

At his final competition in Kladno last week, the 34-year-old athlete took second place with 7 804 points, but he was well short of the A-standard qualifying mark (8 227) for the global championships in London in August.

“A new chapter starts now,” he said, “and looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

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