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Three golds for SA athletes in Finland

Finland

By Mark Etheridge

A trio of gold medals came South Africa’s way at Friday evening’s Lahti Games in Finland and there was also a fourth place for good measure.

Rio Olympics silver medallist Sunette Viljoen won the javelin with a throw of 62.18 metres to get her European season up and running, while Beijing Olympics silver medallist Khotso Mokoena won the long jump with a 7.86m best on the night.

And on the track it was Emile Erasmus who won the 100m dash in 10.35sec.

Viljoen, pictured above, beat runner-up Oona Sormunen by more than two metres after the local athlete  threw a 58.95m. ‘Very happy with my first outing in Finland,’ said Viljoen after her win. ‘Great things to come, feeling awesome.’

Mokoena’s leap was an impressive 27cm ahead of runner-up Kristian Pulli.

As for Erasmus, he beat out young Zambian Sydney Siame, the teenager who has impressed in the early stages of the season. His victory margin was 0.04sec.

‘Under the circumstances I feel my race wasn’t too bad,’ he said afterwards. ‘My time was 10.35, but we were running into a 1.4m/sec headwind and I only landed in Finland last night, which wasn’t the best thing.

‘My start was horrible, but my drive and transition phase were very good. But then my finish let me down again.

‘But I think that was maybe the effects of the flight. So under the circumstances I don’t think my time’s too bad.

‘I’ve got about six races on this trip, but I’m not 100% sure of the programme right now.’

As for 100m hurdler Claudia Heunis, this was her second outing in Finland, having won two 100m hurdles races in the country earlier this week.

She took fourth in 13.54sec as Nigeria’s Lindsay Lindley won in 13.38.

‘You wouldn’t say it’s summer here, it was just 11 degree Celsius and with that headwind it made conditions difficult.

‘I still didn’t have a bad race. I ran well and then hit the eighth hurdle very hard and lost my rhythm.’

Her next race will be in Turku (also Finland) on Tuesday next week, so too, for Erasmus.


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