“I'm sad that I won't compete at a Varsity Athletics meet again. I've watched the competition develop over the past few years and it was a good experience. Now it's time for younger athletes to make their mark," she says.
Justine Palframan , who is busy with her BSc honours in Biokinetics, is the reigning SA champion in the 200m and 400m. She represented South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and has won two medals at the World Student Games – gold in the 400m in 2015 and silver in the 400m in 2017.
She has been in scintillating form this year, running a personal best time in the 200m (22.83s) at the recent USSA Athletics Championships. She is also nearing a personal best time in the 400m.
“I'm enjoying my running at the moment. I'm focusing less on the results and more on getting the race plan right."
She and her coach, Dr Suzanne Ferreira, are working on making small improvements and changing habits with the long-term goal of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
As a Maties High Performance student-athlete, Justine has access to all the knowledge, services and technological support offered by the Maties Sport High Performance Unit. Her training group – which includes Paralympic stars Charl du Toit, Dyan Buis and Anruné Weyers – also provides excellent support and motivation.
Her athletic and academic career also received a significant boost when she was named one of the first two recipients of the Bettie Harmsen Scholarship. Bettie Harmsen, born Buitendag, was a keen athlete and Stellenbosch University graduate who received her BSc Honours in Medical Biochemistry in 1989. She passed away in 2016 at the age of 50 after a fierce battle with cancer. Days before her death, she and her husband Hans decided to award a scholarship to promising SU track and field athletes. The family has committed to donate $10 000 per year for a minimum of ten years.
Justine is very aware of the importance of support.
When she was growing up in KwaZulu-Natal, someone told her parents that no top sportsman or woman will ever come out of a small town like Eshowe because they don't have adequate facilities. Justine is proof that this is not true. She overcame the lack of facilities by training on her school Eshowe High's hockey field with her dad, Steve Palframan, as her coach.
She believes many people don't reach their full potential because the obstacles they face seem unsurmountable.
“I would like to say to them: I know you don't have this, but you might have something else. You have to be inventive. It is possible to get to the top using what you have. It is not an excuse."
For now, Justine's goal is preparing for the Athletics World Cup in London in July. She is in the squad for this event and is awaiting the final team selection. She also wants to compete in one or two other races in Europe.
She has been an excellent ambassador for Stellenbosch University over the years and represented them, along with three other representatives from Maties Sport, at the 7th IWG World Conference on Women and Sport in Botswana from 17 to 20 May.