South African distance runner Rene Kalmer believes her participation in the London Marathon on Sunday will stand her in good stead for the Olympic Games later in the year.
Kalmer, who won the women’s 5 000 metres title at the national championships in Port Elizabeth on Friday and the Spar Women’s 10km Challenge in Cape Town on Sunday, will be running as a pacemaker in this weekend’s race in the English capital.
“I have been asked to help a group of British athletes who are trying to clinch the last British marathon spot in their Olympic Games team,” Kalmer said.
“I have been asked to set the pace for a finishing time of two hours, 28 minutes.
“I’m aiming to run at 3:30 a kilometre, and hopefully I will be able to keep that up for 30 kilometres. After that, it’s over to them.”
She said she was excited at the prospect of running in one of the world’s most iconic road races.
“I believe the crowds and the atmosphere are amazing,” she said.
“I think it will be a good dress rehearsal for the marathon at the Olympic Games. At least I shouldn’t get stage-fright.”
She was pleased to have her Olympic Games qualifier under her belt, having clocked 2:29.59 in Yokohama in October.
“Last time, I qualified about a week before the deadline, whereas this time I have done it quite early,” she said.
“Now I can concentrate on preparing for the Olympic Games, instead of preparing to qualify.”
Kalmer’s training partner, Irvette van Blerk, will go in search of the last spot in South Africa’s Olympic women’s marathon team when she toes the line in London on Sunday.
“I certainly won’t be running with Rene’s group,” Van Blerk said.
“I guess I’ll watch her back, like I usually do, but that pace is too fast for me.
“The qualifying time is two hours, 37 minutes (2:37.00), but I am aiming to finish in 2:35.”
Tanith Maxwell booked the second spot in the SA women’s team when she finished the Rotterdam Marathon in 2:36.47 on Sunday, dipping 13 seconds under the qualifying standard.
Hendrick Ramaala, meanwhile, failed in his final bid to join the men’s team when he trailed home in 33rd place, in 2:17.57, in the Paris Marathon.
He remained South Africa’s fourth fastest athlete during the qualifying period.
As things stand, with time running out for runners to secure places in the team, Stephen Mokoka looks set to spearhead the SA men’s trio at the Games after he clocked 2:10.29 in Shanghai in December.
Coolboy Ngamole (2:10.43) and Lusapho April (2:11.09) are next in line to join Mokoka at the start line in the quadrennial showpiece.
Ramaala, who clocked 2:12.12 in Dubai in February, is the fourth fastest and he will be left relying on the withdrawal of one of his countrymen in an effort to become the first South African to compete in five successive Olympic Games. – Sapa