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Irvette steps up

By Mark Etheridge

Irvette van Blerk has ensured that South African should have a three-strong women’s marathon team at the London Olympics later this year.

That’s after the Gauteng ace cruised to an offical 2hr 33min 41sec finish at the London Marathon on Sunday.

That was good enough to give her 18th position.

Van Blerk, 24, went through the halfway mark in 75min 18sec and her finishing time was comfortably within the 2hr 37min A standard qualfiying time.

This was the first standard marathon that she had completed ÔÇô She started the Soweto Marathon last year but pulled out with four kilometres to run after a nasty fall at the start.

The lean blonde athlete, winner of numerous national titles on the road, wrapped up her preparations with third spot at last week’s Spar Womens’ 10km race in Cape Town.

She now joins Rene Kalmer and Tanith Maxwell as the other South Africans who have qualified for the global showpiece in London.

Kalmer ran a 2:29.59 in Yokohama, Japan last year, while KwaZulu-Natal’s Tanith Maxwell ran 2:36:47 to end 13th in Rotterdam last week.

Van Blerk ran a sensible race, not mixing it up with the early leaders. Wearing bib number 129, she went through 5km in 17:27, 10km in 35:24 and 15km in 53:22. At 35km she was up as high at 15th position in the elite women but consolidated to end 18th overall.

She will now join fiancee LJ van Zyl in London, after our 400m hurdles medal contender sealed his qualification at last week’s national track and field championships in Port Elizabeth.

The women’s race was won by defending champion Mary Keitany of Kenya in 2:18:37 while countryman Wilson Kipsang won the men’s race in 2:04:44.

In the wheelchair race in London, former South African Krige Schabort, now racing for the United States, took third in 1:32:28 while Paarl’s Ernst van Dyk took 10th spot in 1:36:01.


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