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Kalmer ends best of SA marathon trio in 35th place

By Mark Etheridge
in London

Second time Olympian Rene Kalmer ended 35th in the 2012 women’s marathon on Sunday.

Kalmer, who ran the 1500-metre track event at the last Olympics in Beijing four years ago, clocked 2hr 30min 51sec, just under two minutes outside her personal best.

That was 7:44 behind winner Tiki Gelana of Ethiopian, who needed an Olympic record 2:23:07 to get the better of Kenyan Priscah Jeptoo (five seconds back). Russia’s Tatyana Petrova produced a storming second half to take the bronze in 2:23:29. Both Gelana and Jeptoo were inside Naoko Takahashi’s Games record of 2:23:14 set in 2000 (Sydney).

At halfway Kalmer was lying 29th in 73:23 but slipped back over the final stages of the race, that got underway in thunderstorm conditions and with the rain pelting down on London’s famous Mall.

Down just 10sec behind the leaders at halfway surge the but five African representatives at the head of the field saw her slip back a minute when they reached 25km.

After the race it appeared that an exhausted Kalmer had been taken off to the medical tent for treatment. Said coach Gerrie Coetzee, half an hour after his charge had finished. ”I have no idea where she is, that’s the only thing I can think of.’

There was not good news for Coetzee’s other long-distance charge as Kalmer’s training partner, the prodigiously talented Irvette van Blerk, failed to finish and pulled out before the 17km mark after going through 10km in 36:16.

“She’s been battling with Achilles tendon problems for a while now and we really need to get this sorted out,” said Coetzee.

Certainly these Olympics have not been a happy experience for one of South African sports glamour couples. Earlier in the week, Van Blerk’s fiance, World Championship bronze medallist, LJ van Zyl, failed to advance past the first round of the 400m hurdles heats.

The third member of Team SA in the marathon, Tanith Maxwell, ended 81st in 2:40:27.

“I had a good first half, going through in 76:30 but it fell apart after that,” said the KwaZulu-Natal athlete, who was the third quickest of the SA qualifiers.

“I must admit that I was probably a little overwhelmed by the whole Olympic experience. The first little lap, the crowd were so noisy you couldn’t even hear your own footsteps.

“It was a very emotional moment, definitely the most amazing race I’ve been in and it probably got to me over the second half. I was hoping to run a time of around 2:32 but after halfway that was it.”

At 36, the oldest of the SA trio, will she be having another crack at the next Games in Rio in 2016. “I very much doubt it… these last four years have been a long slog with lots of sacrifices etc so I’m really not sure of my running future at this stage.”

More later…


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