Athlete Profile

    South Africa South Africa
    06 OCT 1983
Sunette Viljoen in the javelin qualifying round at the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images)

Current World Ranking Positions

Discipline Place Score
Women's Javelin Throw 36 1073
Women's Overall Ranking 2895 1073

Highest Ever World Ranking Positions

Discipline Place Duration
Women's Javelin Throw 10 for 9 weeks
Women's Overall Ranking 573 for 1 week
Highest ever World Rankings position is considered from 1/1/2019


Discipline Performance Wind Venue Date Records Results Score
Javelin Throw 69.35 Icahn Stadium (Fordham), New York, NY (USA) 09 JUN 2012 AR, NR 1252


* Not legal.


Discipline Performance Wind Place Date Records Results Score
Javelin Throw 60.60 McArthur Stadium, Potchefstroom (RSA) 16 MAR 2021 1089


Javelin Throw

Performance Place Date
2021 60.60 McArthur Stadium, Potchefstroom (RSA) 16 MAR 2021
2020 58.30 Bestmed Tuks Stadium, Pretoria (RSA) 13 MAR 2020
2019 61.22 Pretoria (RSA) 15 MAR 2019
2018 62.46 Sasolburg (RSA) 27 MAR 2018
2017 63.49 Potchefstroom (RSA) 21 APR 2017
2016 65.14 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 06 MAY 2016
2015 66.62 Albert Park, Melbourne (AUS) 21 MAR 2015
2014 65.32 Le Grande Stade, Marrakesh (MAR) 13 AUG 2014
2013 64.51 Luzhniki, Moskva (RUS) 16 AUG 2013
2012 69.35 Icahn Stadium (Fordham), New York, NY (USA) 09 JUN 2012
2011 68.38 DS, Daegu (KOR) 02 SEP 2011
2010 66.38 Stadion Juliska, Praha (CZE) 14 JUN 2010
2009 65.43 Beograd (SRB) 07 JUL 2009
2008 62.24 Potchefstroom (RSA) 26 FEB 2008
2007 58.39 Bangkok (THA) 14 AUG 2007
2006 60.72 Melbourne (AUS) 19 MAR 2006
2005 57.31 Parow (RSA) 16 DEC 2005
2004 61.15 Pretoria (RSA) 20 FEB 2004
2003 61.59 Durban (RSA) 07 DEC 2003
2002 58.33 Potchefstroom (RSA) 07 DEC 2002

Honours - Olympic Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
2. Javelin Throw 64.92 Estádio Olímpico, Rio de Janeiro (BRA) 18 AUG 2016
4. Javelin Throw 64.53 Olympic Stadium, London (GBR) 09 AUG 2012

Honours - World Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
2. Javelin Throw 68.38 DS, Daegu (KOR) 02 SEP 2011
3. Javelin Throw 65.79 National Stadium, Beijing (CHN) 30 AUG 2015
6. Javelin Throw 63.58 Luzhniki, Moskva (RUS) 18 AUG 2013

Honours - World (Continental) Cup

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. Javelin Throw 62.21 Poljud Stadion, Split (CRO) 04 SEP 2010
2. Javelin Throw 63.76 Le Grande Stade, Marrakesh (MAR) 13 SEP 2014

Honours - African Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. Javelin Throw 65.32 Le Grande Stade, Marrakesh (MAR) 13 AUG 2014
1. Javelin Throw 60.13 Brazzaville (CGO) 15 JUL 2004
1. Javelin Throw 64.08 Durban (RSA) 25 JUN 2016
1. Javelin Throw 63.33 Nyayo National Stadium, Nairobi (KEN) 31 JUL 2010
1. Javelin Throw 55.17 Addis Abeba (ETH) 03 MAY 2008
2. Javelin Throw 55.64 Bambous (MRI) 12 AUG 2006

Honours - All-African Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
3. Javelin Throw 53.44 Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay Abdellah, Rabat (MAR) 28 AUG 2019
3. Javelin Throw 54.46 Algiers (ALG) 20 JUL 2007
3. Javelin Throw 51.68 Abuja (NGR) 13 OCT 2003

Honours - Diamond League

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. Javelin Throw 61.95 Stadio Olimpico, Roma (ITA) 02 JUN 2016
1. Javelin Throw 65.14 Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha (QAT) 06 MAY 2016
1. Javelin Throw 69.35 Icahn Stadium (Fordham), New York, NY (USA) 09 JUN 2012
1. Javelin Throw 64.32 International Stadium, Gateshead (GBR) 10 JUL 2010

Honours - Commonwealth Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. Javelin Throw 62.34 New Delhi (IND) 09 OCT 2010
1. Javelin Throw 60.72 Melbourne (AUS) 19 MAR 2006
2. Javelin Throw 63.19 Hampden Park, Glasgow (GBR) 30 JUL 2014
3. Javelin Throw 62.08 Gold Coast (AUS) 11 APR 2018

Honours - World University Games

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. Javelin Throw 66.47 National Stadium, Shenzhen (CHN) 18 AUG 2011
1. Javelin Throw 62.52 Beograd (SRB) 09 JUL 2009

Honours - National Championships

Place Discipline Mark Wind Place Date
1. Javelin Throw 57.23 Germiston (RSA) 27 APR 2019
1. Javelin Throw 63.49 Potchefstroom (RSA) 21 APR 2017
1. Javelin Throw 59.39 Stellenbosch (RSA) 15 APR 2016
1. Javelin Throw 64.14 Stellenbosch (RSA) 18 APR 2015
1. Javelin Throw 64.77 Pretoria (RSA) 11 APR 2014
1. Javelin Throw 61.87 Stellenbosch (RSA) 12 APR 2013
1. Javelin Throw 61.15 Port Elizabeth (RSA) 14 APR 2012
1. Javelin Throw 58.70 Durban (RSA) 10 APR 2011
1. Javelin Throw 63.45 Durban (RSA) 21 MAR 2010
1. Javelin Throw 59.92 Stellenbosch (RSA) 14 MAR 2009
1. Javelin Throw 53.64 Port Elizabeth (RSA) 11 FEB 2006
1. Javelin Throw 59.23 Durban (RSA) 17 APR 2004
1. Javelin Throw 54.32 Port Elizabeth (RSA) 26 APR 2003
Results in:

Javelin Throw

Date Competition Cnt. Cat Race Pl. Result
27 FEB 2021 AGN League 1, Bestmed Tuks Stadium, Pretoria RSARSA F F 1. 56.63
16 MAR 2021 ACNW Open T&F Meeting, McArthur Stadium, Potchefstroom RSARSA F F 1. 60.60
23 MAR 2021 ASA Athletix Invitational Meeting, Ruimsig Stadium, Roodepoort, Johannesburg RSARSA F F 1. 58.00

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 22 July 2009

Sunette VILJOEN, South Africa (Javelin) 

Born: 6 October 1983, Johannesburg
1.68m / 68kg. 
Coach:  Terseus Liebenberg

Belgrade is a city that will always revive the happiest of memories for Sunette Viljoen, a physical education teacher in Rustenberg, who, with one fantastic throw of 65.43m, made sure that the world’s top women javelin throwers will take serious notice of her. She set the athletics programme of the 2009 World Student Games alight on the first day with a tremendous throw in the qualifying round.

“With my personal best at 62.24 I approached the Games hoping to improve my own record and to take a medal home, although I thought to myself that, since I had won the Commonwealth Games gold in Melbourne in 2006, I could repeat that feat and become the World Student champion,” Viljoen reflected after a final training session in Potchefstroom before returning to Europe for two more meetings prior to the World Championships in Berlin.

“Things happened so unexpectedly. I took my opening throw and it felt really good but I had no clue how far it was. I looked in the direction of the place where coach Terseus (Liebenberg) was standing but, when I saw him jumping up and down, it suddenly struck home and I heard him shouting 65…65! It was like a dream come true.”        

Victory in Melbourne in 2006 was also very special because Viljoen won there in front of a crowd of 76,500 spectators. “After major disappointments in Athens in 2004, and the World Students of 2005 in Izmir, I never even thought about medals or winning. The spectators were fantastic, particularly if you are used to about 2000 people at home.”       

The Final in Belgrade boosted her confidence even more when all five of her legal throws measured beyond 60 metres, with a respectable 62.52 in the final round most satisfactory. Her record throw was about three metres better than her previous best and elevated her to the fourth place on the 2009 IAAF Top Lists.

“I am really looking forward to my clashes with the top stars in Berlin,” she said. “My aim is to finish in the top six while any medal will be the cherry on the top. The fact that I am the smallest of all the top girls does not bother me.  I have done all the hard work, I am strong enough and fast (her secret weapon) and I hope to better my African and SA record.”

Viljoen’s big throw in Belgrade was the fourth senior African record of her career since 2002. Her first record of 58.33 had also set a continental junior best. In 2003 she first reached 60.57 in Potchefstroom and followed it up with 61.59 in Durban.      Then Justine Robbeson, her main rival, a member of the same club, and a former World Junior heptathlon champion, took over and improved the continental record to 63.49 in February 2008.                                       

“Our rivalry brings out the best in both of us,” Viljoen said. “We have respect for each other but, when in the same contest, it is a battle royal in the true sense of the words.”  

Viljoen, who has various degrees (Bachelor of Commerce in Sport Management and Recreation; Bachelor of Education Honours, Higher Education Schools diploma, and more to come) behind her name, grew up in a teaching and sporting environment.  Her parents, both teachers and sports lovers (dad Deon was a provincial rugby wing) have supported her all along during an exciting sporting career that started in 1998, at the age of 14, when she was selected to play cricket for South Africa’s national team. She excelled as a batsman and appeared in Test and one-day internationals.   

At that stage she had to make a choice between cricket and athletics. It was a difficult decision but javelin throwing got the nod and, with Liebenberg as coach – he guided Marius Corbett to a world title in 1997 –  and Jan Zelezny as role-model, she is convinced she has done the right thing.    

As a youngster she preferred to run the 400 metres but, because of a strong arm and impressing when throwing a cricket ball, her headmaster told a teacher, Marina Hamilton, that if she could help her to throw 35 metres with a javelin she could start coaching her. Viljoen agreed reluctantly because she had previously failed to control the spear. However, the result a few days later was 36.92 and since then it has never been the same again.    

She has a son of 4 (Henré), of whom she is very proud. He resembles her, plays the most important role in her life, and has given her only pleasure. She has been engaged to Conrad Seymore since Christmas 2008 but they have no definite wedding plans as yet. She also has a brother (30) and a younger sister of 21.        

Viljoen loves to relax and watch movies but, most of all, she enjoys socialising with family and friends around a fire and a typical South African “braai” (barbeque). She impresses with all the facts and stats of her own career which she has on the tips of her fingers.    

Personal Best
65.43m (2009)   

Yearly Progression 
1999, 43.89;  2000, 45.50;  2001, 50.70;  2002, 58.33;  2003, 61.59;  2004,  61.15;  2005, 57.31;  2006, 60.72;  2007, 58.39;  2008, 62.24;  2009, 65.43.   
Career Highlights
2003:             q        World Championships (Paris)
2003:             3rd      All Africa Games (Abuja)
2003:             1st     Afro-Asian Games (Hyderabad)
2004        1st    African Championships  (Brazzaville)
2004             q    Olympic Games (Athens) 
2005        12th    World Student Games (Izmir)
2006        1st    Commonwealth Games (Melbourne)
2006        2nd     African Championships  (Bambous)
2007        3rd      All Africa Games (Algiers)
2007        5th    World Student Games (Bangkok)
2008             1st    African Championships  (Addis Ababa)
2008             q    Olympic Games (Beijing)
2009        1st    World Student Games (Belgrade)

Prepared by Gert le Roux for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2009.