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Conrad gets European campaign under way

By Mark Etheridge

Little Nolene Conrad takes another big step on her international athletics career path this week and runs the first of at least three European meetings on Monday night.

Last year’s European excursion was the first on her own and she believes she returned a richer person because of it.

“I did not know what to expect ÔÇô all I knew was that I had nothing to lose and that I wanted to go there and have fun doing what I love most, and that is run,” the Central Gauteng athlete told Road to Rio 2016. “I found the experience to be amazing, it exceeded all my expectations and it was a very successful trip. Each race that I lined up for, I ended up running a new personal best.”

The trip also proved to be therapeutic in a sense for the Vorentoe High School teacher. “I also enjoyed the break away from my hectic lifestyle at home. I find it to be very stressful and tiring, and its even worse when you are an athlete training twice a day on top of that. So a trip away from the madness was soothing. I felt that all the running around trying to organise this trip, all the money spent out of my own pocket was well worth it. I must also say that I had a guardian angel and without his help the trip would not have been possible ÔÇô he believed in me.”

Regarding her latest trip, 27-year-old Conrad says she’s even better prepared. “It’s been my plans for a while now to save up some money and come to Europe again this year. I had a good winter cross-country season ÔÇô winning the SA title in the senior women’s 8km and also representing SA at the World Cross Country Championships in Poland in March this year.

“So I was excited to kick start my SA track season. However I was a bit disappointed by not only the fact that that my times were not what I had hoped for but also because I did not have that many competitions to compete in. I was happy to be crowned SA champion in the 3000m steeplechase again after five years.”

And her aim in Europe? “That will be to improve on my times of last year. However I must emphasis that my motto here is ‘no pressure!’ I don’t want to pressurise myself to chase an SA record or to run a qualifying time for World Champs. Obviously it is my goal but I want to take it as it comes.”

Conrad’s first competition is the 3000m SC in Rehlinghen, Germany on Monday night and she also has races in Belgium in France over the next few weeks.


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