SA champ Pal­fra­man sprint­ing again with a smile

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - OCK­ERT DE VIL­LIERS

CON­SID­ERED ONE of South Africa’s bright­est sprint­ing prospects, Jus­tine Pal­fra­man, lost her shine last year but she was feel­ing bullish about her fu­ture start­ing at the World Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don.

The World Univer­sity Games 400m cham­pion was ini­tially left out of the South African team de­spite meet­ing the IAAF qual­i­fi­ca­tion in the 200m with a per­sonal best time of 22.84 sec­onds.

While the time sig­nalled Pal­fra­man’s re­turn to form, it was not good enough for Ath­let­ics South Africa’s tougher stan­dards, which re­quired a time of 22.65.

“It wasn’t my goal from the be­gin­ning of the year, I wanted to go tothe World Stu­dent Games and take it from there be­cause I started with a new coach and we wanted to just build my con­fi­dence up again,” Pal­fr­man said. “There is al­ways some dis­ap­point­ment be­cause you al­ways have that hope but although I had done the time it was a case of let’s see what hap­pens,”

The 23-year-old earned her place in the world cham­pi­onship team cour­tesy of the women’s 4x400m re­ally team qual­i­fy­ing for the global show­piece.

Pal­fra­man said an ex­haust­ing rac­ing cal­en­dar in 2015, which in­cluded the World Stu­dent Games, the World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing, and the African Games, chipped away at her love for the sport.

In­stead of tak­ing a break, Pal­fra­man went straight into her prepa­ra­tions for the Rio Olympic Games, which re­sulted in poor per­for­mances where she bat­tled to break through the 53-sec­ond bar­rier in the 400m.

“Af­ter last year, my con­fi­dence dropped a lot. I wasn’t en­joy­ing run­ning, so we just wanted to build en­joy­ment and see what hap­pens,” Pal­fra­man said.

“So, just hav­ing fun and en­joy­ing what I was do­ing, the times came as well which was very ex­cit­ing.”

Pal­fra­man has since joined renowned coach Dr Suzanne Fer­reira, who men­tored five medal­lists at last year’s Par­a­lympics.

The three-time South African cham­pion said the fo­cus at the cham­pi­onships was to fin­ish her cham­pi­onships with a smile . “What I am work­ing on this year is to smile af­ter the race, so if I do a re­ally bad time or a re­ally good time I just want to smile,” Pal­fra­man said.

“For me just fin­ish­ing the race, and just be­ing happy about what­ever hap­pens, I think that would be nice.

“Then, what­ever comes from that, if I am feel­ing strong, and I ran a per­fect bend and a per­fect start the time will come.”

Pal­fra­man said she was buoyed by the per­for­mances of her dis­abled train­ing part­ners at their world cham­pi­onships where they posted per­sonal best times. “(Peak­ing) here is the plan, I’ve done all the work and I’ve now watched my train­ing part­ners and the times they were do­ing and I know where I am com­pared to them. So I know if they can do it there is noth­ing stop­ping me from do­ing it.”

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