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Rene’s Japanese joy

By Mark Etheridge

Already qualified for the marathon at the London Olympics later this year, our Rene Kalmer continued her impressive build-up with a debut international victory in the Gifu Seiryu half-marathon in Japan this weekend.

Kalmer, who had also run her qualifying event in Japan, at the Yokohama Marathon in November last year, won in a course record 73min 02sec.

She also had the satisfaction of outkicking two time Olympic silver medallist Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, making her victory all the more sweeter.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with my win,” the 31-year-old ace told Road to London 2012 from Japan on Sunday. “I started a bit too fast, as the first 4km was flat and fast. My first kilometre was 3:05. Then the course basically climbed from 4km to 16km. Catherine and the Japanese girl, Eri Okubo caught up with me at 10km.”

They would go on to place second and third respectively in 73:04 and 73:26,  also both inside the old course record.

“Luckily I was able to hang in their group and work with them. From 10km on me and Eri did most of the work with Catherine just tucked in beside. Eri fell of the pace with 2km to go and then it was a race between me and Catherine. She passed me with about 400m to go.

“But I just said to myself that I did all the work leading the race and I have to fight till the end and ended up out-kicking her with 80m to go. The course wasn’t fast but I think it compared well with the Olympic marathon course so a great race in preparation for London.”

Making it an occasion to cherish that her coach of many years, Gerrie Coetzee was with her on her trip to the east.”

It was really very special that he was here with me to witness my first international win on the road. When he saw my kick he got a flash back from SA Senior Champs in 1996 when I won the 1500m in Potch as a 16-year-old!”

Coetzee will be a happy man this weekend after yet another of his charges, Irvette van Blerk, won the SA 10km road title in Kimberly on Saturday.


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