Van Zyl ‘just needs to stick to game plan’

• SA leg­end tips lo­cal to win Cape Town Marathon

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Mike de Bruyn Cape Town

Irvette van Zyl’s name looms large in the women’s elite field gear­ing up to chal­lenge for line hon­ours in the Cape Town Marathon on Sun­day.

Irvette van Zyl’s name looms large in the women’s elite field gear­ing up to chal­lenge for line hon­ours in the Cape Town Marathon on Sun­day.

While the for­mer Olympian is bet­ter known for her ex­ploits over shorter dis­tances, the added mileage should not prove to be an ob­sta­cle for the 30year-old Jo­han­nes­burg res­i­dent.

She need just re­pro­duce her form on marathon de­but in 2012 at the Lon­don Marathon when she placed a cred­i­ble 20th in a re­spectable 2hr 33min 41sec to come into the reck­on­ing.

Fac­tor in an­other top-class ef­fort in the Lon­don Marathon the fol­low­ing year and she must be seen to be a pos­si­ble threat in a world-class field gath­ered to mix it in Africa’s first Gold La­bel Sta­tus event.

Back­ing her to go close is SA’s leg­endary long-dis­tance ath­lete Elana Meyer, who won gold at the World Half Marathon World Cham­pi­onships in 1993 as well as be­ing a two-time world-record holder over the dis­tance, not to men­tion win­ning sil­ver at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in the 10,000m.

“Irvette has the pedi­gree to make a race of it, and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if she crossed the fin­ish­ing line in first place,” said Meyer, who is one of two am­bas­sadors for Sun­day’s race.

“Yes, she’s only been a marathoner for six years, but hav­ing said that, I feel she has the strength, stamina and re­quired speed to more than hold her own.

“So many things have to fall into place, and from her side, things seem to have aligned them­selves nicely.

“So, now, it’s a mat­ter of her stay­ing healthy and ... come the starter’s gun, ex­e­cut­ing her game plan as best she can ... and let the out­come take care of it­self.” Van Zyl was born to run.

Back in 2002, aged 15, she won her first ma­jor race when she saw off the rest to win the high-pro­fileZev en heuve len loop 15km race while on hol­i­day in the Nether­lands, a sign of what was to come.

A cham­pion through the age groups over vary­ing dis­tances up to 21km, now is her time to shine and show she can hold court with the finest marathon run­ners on the planet.

Vic­tory on Sun­day would rub­ber stamp that.

“I’m ready to go,” Van Zyl said. “My prepa­ra­tions have been mi­nus any headaches, that’s al­ways a big plus.

“As for the field as­sem­bled, it is one out of the top drawer.

“As for the rac­ing part, be­ing aided by pace­set­ters for the first time could see a time posted close to two-and-a-half hours.”

Is­abella Ochichi’s 2:30:20 set in 2015 is the race record.

“I think things will only start de­vel­op­ing once we are past the half­way mark.

“I would need to be among the lead group to stand any chance of gun­ning for glory.”

Stand­ing in her way is reign­ing cham­pion Tish Jones of Bri­tain, while Ger­many’s Lisa Hah­ner and lo­cal hopes Le­bo­gang Phalula (third in 2016), Zin­tle Xiniwe and Cor­nelia Jou­bert can­not be ruled out.

Ethiopia’s Asefa Negewo de­fends his men’s crown won in a record time of 2:08:41.

Reign­ing Two Oceans cham­pion Lungile Gongqa will be eye­ing a Cape dou­ble, but the likes of El­roy Ge­lant — Meyer fan­cies his chances on marathon de­but — Michael Maz­ibuko, Lucky Mo­hale, Xolisa Tyali and Mbon­geni Ngx­a­zozo are all pos­si­ble win­ners on what is pre­dicted to be a fine day for rac­ing in the Mother City.


/Gallo Im­ages

Go­ing the dis­tance: Le­bo­gang Phalula, left, will be push­ing Irvette van Zyl in Sun­day’s Cape Town Marathon.

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