She’s well worth her weight

Enthusiastic primary school pupil wants to follow in the footsteps of great South African weightlifters

She might look like a runway model at first glance, but Luane Viljoen hopes to follow in the footsteps of some of the great South African weightlifters by giving her all for the sport she loves.
Viljoen was preparing to take to the platform in the South African Senior Weightlifting Championships in Cape Town on Saturday and was keen to add more medals to her already impressive curriculum vitae.
Competing in the open category, Viljoen, who is in Grade 7 at Excelsior Primary, was looking to put in a solid performance against some of the best weightlifters in the country.
She last competed in September at the RSA Coastal Weightlifting Championships, where she claimed a bronze medal.
First introduced to the sport almost two years ago through Team SA weightlifting coach Pieter Pretorius, Viljoen spoke fondly about the first time she took to the platform
“The first time I added weights to the bar, I knew that this sport was for me,” the Laerskool Excelsior pupil said.
“It was challenging to walk up to the bar and lift the weights, but I like a challenge. Once you get onto the platform, you have to be at one with the bar.
“An example of what is so awesome about [weightlifting] is that, when I had a bad day at school, I can just go lift and everything is fine again.
“And it is cheaper than therapy,” she chuckled.
In June and July she had back-to-back competitions.
Firstly, she entered the Nelson Mandela Weightlifting Championships in the 58kg division in June, where she claimed the U14 gold medal and trophy, in addition to the youth trophy.
A month later, she competed at the SA U14, youth and junior championships held in the Bay and picked up the gold medal in the 58kg category.
She also added the youth gold, U14 best female lifter and youth best female lifter trophies to her list.
In 2017 she representing Eastern Province for the first time, taking part in the SA U14, youth and junior championships in Cape Town where she took gold, along with the U14 Champ of Champs trophy in the 53kg category
September saw her become the youngest competitor in SA to be part of a senior competition when she contested the RSA Coastal Senior Weightlifting Championships in Mossel Bay, claiming a silver medal in the 53kg category.
In November, she competed at the SA Senior Weightlifting Championships in Durban and took the gold medal in the 53kg category.
Asked what she had learnt from training with a coach like Pretorius, as well as being inspired by the record-breaking team- mates around her, she said: “Coach Piet is an amazing coach.
“He coaches out of his heart and he is very motivating.
“We are a family at the gym and he pushes us to our full potential.
“It is a privilege for me to have such a amazing coach and a mean team of partners that lift amazing weights. I want to follow in their footsteps.”
In addition to being a model at Sophisticate Models, Viljoen enjoys reading, spending time with her family and just having fun as a 13-year-old.
She hopes to emulate the likes of the Bay’s own Mona Pretorius and Spanish weightlifter Lidia Valentin, who have achieved great things in the sport.
“I have never represented South Africa and that would be a dream come true for me, to represent the country at a world competition and to be an inspiration to other young lifters,” she said.

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