Updated 25 July 2008
Pieter (Ter) DE VILLIERS, South Africa (400m Hurdles)
Born 13 November 1982, Bellville
1.80m / 75kg
Nike Athletics Club
Coach: Bessie Windell
Pieter de Villiers spent his childhood in a deep athletics environment because his mother, Thea, represented South Africa in 1968 on a European tour in the 800m while his father, also named Pieter, was a leading 400m hurdler.
Pieter, generally known as Ter, is the youngest of three children – the other two are girls – and he married Mieke-Louise, a graphic designer, on 1 December 2007. Having spent some of his early years in Namibia, he did his schooling at Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch, and, in June 2008, he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce University degree in Financial Management from the University of South Africa.
Competing in the Olympic Games in Beijing will be the greatest moment so far in the career of this natural and another of South Africa’s numerous world-class intermediate hurdlers over a long period. De Villiers is a real fighter and someone who learnt to overcome the many obstacles that came in his way since he won the silver medal at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Santiago, Chile. Stress fractures and groin problems made his life as an athlete a misery and curtailed his promising career by three years.
De Villiers persevered and, since 2005, his name had been popping up again in top ranking lists. Settled in Pretoria, where he joined the highly successful training group under Hennie Kotze, he lowered his personal best time to 48.46 that year in Lausanne, his favourite track. At the World Championships in Helsinki – not a happy hunting ground for South African athletes – he reached the Semi-Finals.
In March 2006 he was one of the three South Africans to reach the 400m Hurdles Final at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. He finished 7th in 50.51 and, later in the year, after another groin problem, he finished 4th in the windswept African Championships, in Bambous, Mauritius,where his compatriots, L.J. van Zyl and Alwyn Myburgh, took gold and silver. In 2007, de Villiers, Van Zyl and Myburgh – under coach Kotze - again represented South Africa on two occasions. In the All Africa Games, in Algiers, he split the other two for the silver medal and, in Osaka, at the World Championships, he was the only one who reached the Semi-Finals.
Ter enthuses about the opportunity to go to Beijing and he refers to it as the fulfilment of a 12-year dream. His time of 48.71 earlier in the year boosted his confidence and made him positive about his chances. As someone who does not like to speculate about times, he is confident and positive about his own capabilities.
With the departure of Kotze to Saudi Arabia early in 2008, de Villiers switched to veteran Bessie Windell, who guided many of South Africa’s top athletes, mainly in the 1980s, to great heights. “I have great respect and appreciation for her vast knowledge,” de Villiers says. Although things did not go too well in his recent races in Europe, he feels confident about the task ahead.
A decision whether to continue with athletics, or to move into the business world, depends on the outcome of the visit to China.
400m Hurdles: 48.46 (2005)
110m Hurdles: 14.28 (2000)
400m: 46.64 (2008)
400m Hurdles: 2000 - 50.21; 2001 - 49.65; 2002 - 49.28; 2003 - 49.88; 2004 - ; 2005 - 48.46; 2006 - 48.74; 2007 - 48.89; 2008, 48.71.
2000 2nd World Junior Championships
2005 S/F World Championships
2006 7th Commonwealth Games
2006 4th African Championships
2007 2nd All Africa Games
2007 S/F World Championships
Prepared by Gert le Roux for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.