Van Zyl hopes Spar victories are a fillip for Olympics
After her second win, in the second leg of the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge five-leg series this year, Irvette van Zyl is now waiting with bated breath to hear if she will be part of the South African marathon Olympic team going to Rio in August. The announcement will be made this month. Van Zyl beat the Phalula twins, Lebogang and Lebo, to the finish line at yesterday’s challenge in Port Elizabeth, cutting the tape in 33.28 minutes. Lebogang came second in 34.09 minutes, while her sister finished a second later. Van Zyl, who also won the Cape Town leg of the competition last month, said she did not expect to win the race – especially coming from the London Marathon, where she clinched the Olympic qualifying time, alongside Lebo and René Kalmer, last month. “I did not think I was going to win today; it was just about shaking out what I got from the marathon. I wanted to be in the top three, and luckily, everything played to my advantage,” said Van Zyl. “I will focus on the shorter races until Rio – they are easier to work into a programme than longer ones. I cannot say I am definitely in the team ... We will wait and see what their [the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s] final decision will be.” With three Spar races left in the year, Lebogang is hoping to catch up to Van Zyl on the Spar Grand Prix leader board and win the title for the second time in a row. “I thought I would just finish in the top 10 because I struggled with flu and a knee injury this week. I guess it helped me rest a bit as I only started jogging on Friday. I told myself I need to catch up on points because I want to win the Grand Prix again. “I need to be strong and focus to do so. No one has run a bonus points time yet and I am happy about that. I am only two points behind Irvette; I will catch up,” she said. Lebogang is still hoping to qualify for Rio in the 5 000m event. She will be heading to Belgium after the Durban leg of the Spar race next month.