It’s going to be a proud and special occasion for the Viljoen siblings when they pull on the national kit for Team South Africa at the 2012 Olympics in London later this month, writes Mark Etheridge.
The brother and sister combination of Wiaan, 27, and Annari Viljoen, 25, are part of a four-strong badminton contingent at the Olympics. Both will be in doubles action, Wiaan with 2004 Olympian Dorian James and Annari with two-time Olympian Michelle Edwards.
It’s a first Olympics occasion for the Viljoens and Annari made no attempt to hide her ecstasy. “We’re super-excited and counting every second now,” she told Road to London 2012 this week.
“Being our first Olympics and going together of course makes even better and very special! We’ve been playing since the ages of 10 and 11, and you know how it works with siblings: Whatever brother does, sister wants to do as well!
“As it turns out, we were always in competition and it was quite a rivalry of who got the furthest! (good thing we didn’t play in the same events. At that┬áyoung age┬áof course we barely knew what the Olympics was and that it existed, but as we got older the dream of qualifying for the Games┬áslowly but surely became a goal and what we were working towards.
“We travelled from tournament to tournament, played and trained whenever we could and of course there was the very special moment of making the national team in 2004.┬á Wiaan and Dorian started playing together at the end of 2004 and Michelle and myself in 2009.”
Annari, a fitness manager at Virgin Active in Cape Town, is also well aware of the team behind the Olympic dream. “Thanks to the support of SASCOC and Badminton South Africa we had the privilege of playing many tournaments overseas and getting world ranking points to be where we were supposed to be ÔÇô which is top 50 in the world.
“After winning All African Championships in Morocco last year, things started to look good although qualifying period was still until the end of April 2012 with quite a way to go.┬áThe announcement on 6 June to confirm that we had made it and that we’re going to London was one of the happiest days for all of us and a very special and extremely proud moment for the family!”