Promising young weightlifter selected to represent SA

2019-05-22 06:02
Luané Viljoen.Photo:anika de beer

Luané Viljoen.Photo:anika de beer

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SINCE she first tried her hand at weightlifting two years ago, Luané Viljoen’s feet have barely touched the ground.

The 13-year-old is a three-time South African champion and has just about earned herself the title of ‘golden girl’ with the number of first-place medals she’s won.

At her first competition in June 2017, she beat out several older competitors for the top spot in the u/14 53kg category of the Eastern Cape Weightlifting Championships.

And she hasn’t stopped moving. She was crowned the best u/14 female lifter and awarded Eastern Cape colours to represent the province at the South African Weightlifting Championships.

There she again took the gold medal in the girls u/14 58kg category and received the Champ of Champions trophy.

To top things off, Viljoen was the youngest competitor ever to be selected for a senior competition, when she took part in the National Coastal Championships in Mossel Bay. She won silver in her category. This, in turn, set up her confidence to win gold at the National Senior Weightlifting Championships in her category in Durban.

Earlier this year, she took the coveted SPAR Homegrowing Hero title and this past weekend, she took home another gold medal at the Arnold Classic Africa in Johannesburg.

So far there is only one silver and one bronze among her many gold medals.

“When I won the silver medal, the winner beat me by only 1kg,” she said.

As a shy 11-year-old, she found herself watching weightlifters in action one day when her coach discovered her.

Luané said coach Pieter Pretorius “was looking for children like me, who were young and had potential, who could start competing in the sport. And I thought ‘this is cool. Girl. Weightlifting. Wow!’ And so I got started and now I really enjoy it.”

She currently practises five days a week.

“I can snatch 52kg, clean and jerk 65kg, front squat 85kg, back squat 100kg,” she said.

Despite the fact that it leaves her little to no free time, she said she has come too far in weightlifting to ever give it up and even dreams of taking it all the way to the Olympics.

For now, she is working on making her way to the Commonwealth Youth Weightlifting Championships. She has been selected to represent South Africa in the u/17 category in Samoa from July 9 to 14.

“As one of South Africa’s most promising weightlifters, they simply couldn’t leave her out,” said Luané’s grandfather, Piet Viljoen.

“If she is placed in the top 10 in her category in July, she will be selected for the All Africa Games in Morocco later this year.”

Getting to the Commonwealth Youth Weightlifting Championships, however, is proving financially difficult.

The trip will cost about R44 000. Luané, along with another athlete from the same club (Eastern Cape Xtreme Dragons), are hoping to show their mettle at the competition.

“If there is a good Samaritan or two somewhere that can help us, we would be so grateful,” Piet said.

Anyone willing to assist can contact Zola at 083 305 3230 or Piet at 084 439 9397.

A PROMISING young athlete from Nelson Mandela Bay is gearing up to compete for a spot in the national team that will represent South Africa at the African Weightlifting Championships in Algeria this year.

Luané Viljoen, a Grade 7 learner at Excelsior Primary School, only started weightlifting in May last year and has already made a name for herself.

The 12-year-old participated in her first competition in June last year when she took gold in the girls u/14 53kg category of the Eastern Cape Weightlifting Championships.

She was also crowned the best u/14 female lifter and awarded Eastern Cape colours to represent the province at the South African Weightlifting Championships.

There she again took the gold medal home in the girls u/14 58kg category and received the Champ of Champions trophy.

To top things off, Viljoen was the youngest competitor ever to be selected for a senior competition when she took part in the National Coastal Championships in Mossel Bay. She won silver in her category.

This, in turn, set up her confidence to win gold and the National Senior Weightlifting Championships in her category in Durban.

Following this, her proud coach, Pieter Pretorius, said, “What makes this remarkable, is this young lady is only 11 years old (she has since turned 12) and has already outperformed girls who are one, two and three years older than her.”

Asked what got her started in the sport, Viljoen said it was because her stepfather and her coach worked together.

“The sport took his (Pretorius) daughter, Mona, far. I’m wearing part of her uniform right now. She won bronze in the 63kg category of the Commonwealth Games.

“We went to have a look at the gym here in PE; my coach heard I was 11 years old and suggested that maybe I start learning the sport to build the necessary muscle because I had potential. So, I tried it and now I can’t live without it,” Viljoen said.

This Friday and Saturday she will be trying out for a spot in the team that will be going to Algeria soon.

According to Pretorius, she has a 90% chance of being selected.

“If she makes the team, SASCOC will cover most of the expenses,” said Viljoen’s grandfather, Piet.

“What we’re looking for right now is a good Samaritan to help us cover the day-to-day costs, such as the transport to and from the gym five days a week and other more local competitions that they have to pay for themselves.”

According to him, Viljoen’s biggest dream is to one day represent South Africa at the Olympics.

For now, she is enjoying making a name for herself in weightlifting, being a model and preparing for high school next year.

She will be going to Framesby, something she is especially excited about because both Mona and her father attended Framesby as well.

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