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Michelle’s qualifying walk

Our race-walkers have been strutting their stuff around the globe to good effect recently.

In Cape Town, Gauteng’s Michelle Hopkins became the first South African race-walker to achieve the ASA Entry Standard for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India later this year.

This after she strode to a qualifying time of 1hr 47min 28sec in the 20 kilometre event in the Western Province Race-walking Championships at Youngsfield.

The 20-year-old B Comm student (Industrial Psychology) at the University of Johannesburg put in a tactically planned race. This is also the fastest time by any South African woman in the event this year and is a personal best for Michelle.

The Athletics South Africa qualifying standard for the 20km walk is 1:47:35, meaning that Michelle had seven seconds to spare.

Hopkins was the eighth athlete to qualify for the Commonwealth Games and the first Under-23 athlete thus far.

“I broke my personal best by 3min 40sec,” says Hopkins, “and it’s a season’s best by nearly five minutes. Credit to my coach, Carl Meyer (a race walker for 38 years). My personal best came after only six weeks training with Carl.

“It used to be difficult to qualify for competitions but with ASA supporting us now it has become much easier. A lot of people think its easy to race walk but what they don’t realise is that we need to train at least four hours a day in order to be competitive.”

Also on the walking front, this time in Mexico, young Cornelia Swart finished 20th in the women’s 10km event at the IAAF Race Walking Cup in Chihuahua.

She walked to a time of 53min 43sec, as the winner Antonella Palmisano of Italy, clocked 47:52.

Also in action was fellow South African Marc Mundell. He placed 30th in the men’s 50km walk.

A former national champion, he clocked 4:14:42. The 26-year-old’s time was a season’s best in a race won by Slovakia’s Matej Toth in 3:53:30.

By Mark Etheridge


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