By Mark Etheridge
She was very much on song to win three titles at the 2010 Zone VI Games in Swaziland but now Justine Palframan is right on top of the pops after winning the 400-metre title at the weekend’s Yellow Pages senior track and field championships in Port Elizabeth.
Palframan powered to victory in a personal best time of 52.33, beating Estie Wittstock and Alet van Wyk to the gold medal. All very encouraging for the KwaZulu-Natal teenager who has already qualified for World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain in July later this year.
Her winning time beats the 52.88 personal best she set in Swaziland two years ago. Since that victory she’s suffered a few setbacks, notably to a trouble hamstring but there was no sign of it hampering her in Port Elizabeth. “It was my calf that was a little bit sore,” she said after getting back to Eshowe after a lengthy road trip back from the championships, broken up a by a visit to the physiotherapist in Durban.
“It’s just a like a little hot spot in the calf, I can train and race but its there. The physio says the problem is higher up near the hips and I’m slightly out of alignment so I’ll get that fixed up as soon as possible.”
This was her third senior national championships and it was at last year’s championships that she tore the hamstring.
So how did this year’s race go? “Well it was great to see the right race plan working out well this time,” she told Road to London 2012 on Monday. “The plan was to get to 200 metres in 24-25sec and then hold it from there,”┬á said the 18-year-old.
She spent a few weeks in Jamaica earlier this year and she acknowledges that it’s worked wonders for her. “My finish is a lot, lot stronger now. Normally the other girls come past in the last stages but not this time.”
Starting in lane seven wasn’t ideal as she was running “blind” for much of the race. ” I could hear them coming down the final straight but I just hung in there.. I was actually just trying to stay on my feet!”
Next up for her will be Friday night’s Yellow Pages meeting in Pretoria where she’ll move down from 400m to 200m. “The 200m is still my favourite distance out of my three events and we’re all but done with the 100m now.”
Palframan put away her school books after matriculating last year and this year has been a gap year for her. “I’ve been helping my mom teach Grade One and Two swimmers, I went for cooking classes (something I’ve always wanted to do) and have also being going for core-strengthening lessons every week since I got back from Jamaica. They’ve made a big difference. After my gap year, maybe something in the teaching line or sports sciene/biokentics.”
One thing’s for sure when it comes to her athletics, as the saying goes, she’s certainly cooking with gas.