By Mark Etheridge
London Olympics badminton player Wiaan Viljoen has finally hung up his racket after the national men’s doubles team failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics later this year.
Both the 31-year-old Free State player and sister Anneri were part of Team South Africa at the 2012 Olympics.
His last action for South Africa was to take part with doubles partner Andries Malan in the recent Thomas Cup finals in China while he was also at the recent multi-code spectacular Arnold Classic in Johannesburg.
‘Thomas Cup finals were amazing… it’s always fun to play on the big stage and see some great badminton.
‘Our team did well with only four players playing and Cameron Coetzer being the newcomer. He held his own very well and I’m sure he has a bright future.’
Reflecting on his career, which also saw him playing at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland two years ago and last year’s African Games in Brazzaville, Congo, he told Road to Rio 2016: ‘My international career started 13 years ago and wow, I can’t believe it has all come to an end.
‘I have met some great people along the way and seen some amazing places. Travelling for badminton takes you to many countries and it shows you just how amazing South Africa really is!
‘Highlights must be qualifying for London 2012 because that was always a lifelong dream of mine. Being national captain and winning medals for SA is something I will always treasure.
‘Missing out on Rio this year was a bitter pill to swallow but as any athlete will tell you it’s not so much the result but also the journey that stays with you forever.’
Viljoen recently swopped Bloemfontein for Vryheid, in northern KwaZulu-Natal where his wife Wilmarie grew up and the two are involved in the family business which encompasses 4×4 vehicles, wedding venues and property sales.
In the picture, Viljoen (second from right) is seen at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. With him are team-mates Malan, Sandra la Grange and Elmé de Villiers