Javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen has pulled out of the IAAF World Championships in London next week with a back injury.
“The most difficult decision I’ve had to make is to withdraw from @London2017,” Viljoen posted on social media.
Though she was ranked 15th in the world this year with a 63.49m season’s best – nearly six minutes short of her national record set in New York in June 2012 – Viljoen was one of the most experienced and consistent members of the 29-member South African team.
The Olympic silver medallist earned bronze medals at the World Championships in Daegu in 2011 and again in Beijing two years ago.
Had she competed in London, it would have been her sixth appearance at the biennial global championships.
Her management team confirmed that Viljoen would be out for the rest of the season, though it was not believed to be a career-ending injury, and she was likely to return to action in 2018.
“An injury leaves me no choice [but to withdraw]. Believe me, I’ll be back,” Viljoen said.