Blignaut aims for top six as he becomes first SA athlete to make Olympic shot put final since 2000
Kyle Blignaut made history by becoming only the second South African to progress to an Olympic shot put final since Janus Robberts at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. Blignaut threw 20:97m to advance as one of the top 12 ranked athletes at his Games debut in #Tokyo2021. His result gives Team SA a glimmer of hope as they continue the search for a first athletics medal at the Japanese Games.
Speaking to the SASCOC media team in Tokyo, Blignaut says he is happy with what transpired and is even hungry for more. “I’m happy with the performance, going deep into 20 metres in the qualifying round, which was my plan with the coach," said an elated Blignaut who was one of two South Africans alongside Jason van Rooyen in the shot put competition. For the first time since Athens 2004, two men qualified for the shot put, but on that occasion neither Janus Roberts nor Burger Lambrechts were able to advance to the final round. "I'm aiming for mid-21 meters (in the final) which should get top six, and maybe even a medal. I know in 2016 Rio an athlete got a medal with 21:30m throw so I can aim for that then I would be happy," said the the 2018 World U20 Champion. For Pierre Blignaut (not related to Kyle) who has been coaching the athlete since the age of 9, he was over the moon to witness this moment. And he is optimistic his 21-year old athlete will dominate in the future, because age still on his side.
"We are very happy with the performance. To be up against the best in the world is not easy for a young thrower like Kyle," said 72 year-old Pierre. "This is very good experience for him. I personally think if all goes well Kyle can be a future Olympic and World champion. There is still a lot of hard work to do but Kyle is still only 21. Quality throwers only start peaking at 28," he explained. Pierre is also wise to the financial ramifications of his protege's performance in a sport that draws little income in a South Africa. "For now we must do as well as we can in the finals," he said."This would mean that Kyle can get invites to the Diamand league competitions with high financial rewards. I think the prospect of getting good financial contracts are now better but only time will tell. He will rest well today and do his best for Thursday," he concluded.