SA’s Palframan lines up at World Athletics Championships

2013-08-15 00:00

THIS morning (8.55 am) the KZN-born Justine Palframan will line up against the world’s top sprinters, including the new world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser Price, in the first round heats of the 200m at the World Athletics Championships on Moscow.

Palframan has had a tough year in terms of her move from home on the north coast of KZN to university in Stellenbosch, which was chosen as much for the coaching and athletics as it was for the study.

After an eight-week training camp in Jamaica and a short period at home in Eshowe, she moved her base in Stellenbosch to join ex-KZN coach Mohamed Ally. First she had to settle and face the challenge of the extremely daunting orientation programme that faces every first year student.

For this reason and to manage the stress of the transition from school to university, the focus of the first season has been the 200 m, although she still wants to run a good 400 m. This fitted the athletic objective of improving her 200 m speed for the 400 m.

In planning the season she initially faced a calendar of 24 races in April alone and that’s when she and her coach Ally had to take some bold decisions to race only the 200 m event at the national championships, held at her new home stadium Coetzenburg in Stellenbosch.

Palframan posted a 23,28 for 200 m at the coast in the championships to win the SA senior title, which indicated she was on schedule for the primary focus of winning a medal at the World Student Games.

For Palframan, the B standard qualification and subsequent selection for the World Championships in Moscow were really an unplanned bonus, but proved to be a welcome opportunity to gain valuable experience for future years.

Now she is stepping up to the plate again.

“I’m ready for it, I’m excited, very nervous, but I think I can deal with it and do what I came here to do, which is a personal best and if I do that I’ll be happy wherever that puts me,” said the Stellenbosch student.

“I’m in heat four lane two and will be up against Shelly-Ann Fraser Price (JAM) in my heat so I’m excited about that,” continued the 19-year-old who has gained considerably in technique and confidence in her ability as a result of spending a few periods in training camps in Jamaica over the past two years.

Realistically this is a major progression and opportunity for the youngster, who last year competed in the world Junior championships in Barcelona where she set a new SA Junior record of 51,87 for 400 m and placed sixth overall.

Quiet and unassuming, Palframan is clearly a treasure for the future of South African athletics and is one of the youngest members of the current Senior team.

Although, when back visiting her parents, Trevlyn and Steve, she will frequently be seen training at Kings Park with the Fast Feet squad and their dedicated coach, Victor Vaz, she is a talent who has been lost to her home province and will now be developing her career from her new Boland base.

In yesterday’s only final, Robert Heffernan won the men’s 50 kilometre walk to give Ireland their third-ever gold at the World Athletics Championships.

The 35-year-old — fourth in the event at last year’s Olympics — posted the fastest time of the year in three hours 37 minutes and 56seconds, with Russia’s Mikhail Ryzhov in second (3:38:58).

Australia’s two-time Olympic silver medallist Jared Tallent took the bronze (3:40:03).

Heffernan’s gold is the first world title for the Irish since Sonia O’Sullivan’s victory in the 5 000 metres in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1995.

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