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Olympian Oosthuizen starts season with top-10 finish

Ooosthuizen

By Mark Etheridge

Rio Olympics walker Anel Oosthuizen has opened her 2017 season in confident style.

Competing in the Lugano Trophy in Switzerland, young Oosthuizen walked to a top-10 finish in her first outing in that race.

She ended seventh with a time of 1hr 36min 50 for the 20 kilometres, the second best time of her career, and also in the prize money, as the first eight finishers were rewarded.

‘For a season-opener I’m very happy,’ she said after a 12-hour trip back to her base in Slovakia. ‘It’s a whole minute faster than my first race last season, with the same adaption time etcetera. And I also had a 12-hour road trip to shake off before the race.’

I’ve only been in Europe for a week, so it’s a good result. It also qualifies me for World Student Championships in Taiwan [qualification time: 1:38:00].’

Her next race is 8 April in the Czech Republic, and she’s hoping to make that one to remember.

walkShe’s also thankful for her support team. ‘They just make it so much easier while I’m here on my own. I’m part and parcel of the Slovakian race-walking group and go everywhere with them, something I’m very grateful for.’

Now in her fourth year of studying a Foundation Phase Teaching degree at the University of Johannesburg, the Education Faculty is also firmly behind her. ‘Their support the previous three years has been amazing. I miss lots of university and I try and keep up by working at airports while waiting for flights etcetera, but it’s still difficult and they allow me to send stuff back via email and catch up on practicals when I’m back.’

Oosthuizen’s Johannesburg-based coach, Carl Meyer, was happy with his 21-year-old charge. ‘Travelling for 12 hours two days before the race definitely had an impact on the outcome. We both knew it would, and just wanted to get a solid season opener under the belt.

‘The race we aim to do something special is the Podebrady event on 8 April, provided weather conditions allow…. always a gamble with the weather.

‘Since the Olympics we’ve worked a lot on mental strength and already we see the results. With a training race in Pretoria earlier this month in 1:39:03 and now the Lugano Trophy, Anel is on track for a good result in Podebrady. Anel has yet to work on some speed endurance, but that we will leave for later in her programme.’


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