Van Zyl on a quest for speed at SA Track Championships

A quest for speed is the main reason why Pretoria’s Irvette van Zyl will try to defend her 5 000m title at the South African Athletics Championships in Potchefstroom this weekend.

She will also compete in the 1 500m.

Van Zyl had a good reason to smile last weekend after winning the Old Mutual Two Oceans 21km for the second time. When she spoke about her victory it became clear that she is never going to take anything for granted again when racing. Being outsprinted two weeks ago in the last kilometre of the SPAR 10km Challenge in Cape Town was a rude awakening.

“It talked to Lindsey Parry (head coach at Tuks-HPC) and I realise that we were going about my training in the wrong way. I need to be able to accelerate in the last few kilometres in any race even if my legs are tired. After the SPAR race Lindsey changed my training program. I could already feel a difference during the Two Oceans 21km but I still need to get faster,” said Van Zyl.

“Track racing is a good to improve your speed. The nice thing is that I am not going to be the one setting the pace. There are a lot of talented youngsters that are keen to do so. As one of the older girls in the race, I am just going to hang in there especially in the 1 500 metres and kick over the last 300 metres. I don’t think there is a chance that I can win. If I can remember correctly I will race the 5 000 metres just before the 1 500 metre heats. In the 1500m I will be happy to run a time of 04:30 and qualify for the final.

“My goal in the 5 000 metres is to dip well below 16 minutes. To qualify for the World Championships in Potchefstroom is going to be difficult. I definitely want to dip under 16 minutes and maybe if I feel good on the day will be able to run a time of 15:50 or slightly faster,” Van Zyl explained.

According to the IAAF statistics, Van Zyl’s best time in the 5 000m is 16:17.01 and 4:17.49 in the 1 500m.

As for winning the Two Oceans 21km for the second time, Van Zyl said her biggest goal was not to be outsprinted in the final kilometre.

“Time did not really matter to me on Saturday. I just wanted to win. I took the lead early on and never looked back. At some stage during the race Lindsey shouted to me that I had a lead of about 15 seconds. I decided to up my pace slightly. During the last kilometre I decided that I will refrain from celebrating up until I had crossed the finish line,” she concluded.

Van Zyl won in a time of 1:13:53. Nolene Conrad was second in 1:14:27 and Louisa Leballo third in 1:15:00.


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