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SA duo walk to top-10 finishes in Czech Republic

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By Mark Etheridge

South African race walkers Anel Oosthuizen and Wayne Snyman strode to solid top 10 places in Czech Republic at the weekend.

The Rio Olympians were were competing at the EA RAce Walking 20km event in Podebrady.

The women went off 45 minutes ahead of the men, and Oosthuizen ended up seventh to wrap up her month-long Slovakian sojourn.

She returns to South Africa on Tuesday with the satisfaction of having equalled her own SA mark of 1hr 34min 49sec.

‘The race was everything I could have asked for, perfect weather, extremely good conditions in every aspect,’ Oosthuizen said before she headed home. ‘I also had the amazing privilege to be accompanied by the Olympic 50km gold medallist coach from Slovakia [Matej Spišiak] and their team – he was standing in for my coach Carl Meyer for the month I was in Slovakia, as we have a very good relationship with the Slovak race walkers.

‘This past month was an amazing experience overall. Achieving what I never thought was possible so early in my season – two top 10 places (seventh and eighth), as well as my international win over the 10km distance.’

‘While I think most people would be a little frustrated at getting so close to breaking the national record, I feel very, very satisfied. I truly raced my heart out and gave it my all. I can only look forward now to more awesome things ahead.

‘We can already see in my splits, that with a little bit more speed endurance training, I can go under my personal best. But for now I look back on an awesome and very blessed month in Europe.’

Winner of the women’s race, which had just over 40 entrants, was Colombia’s Sandra Viviana Galvis in 1:30:00.

‘Now I’ll focus on getting ready for SA Championships in Potchefstroom and then get on with training for IAAF World Championships in London.

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On to Snyman who was in Europe after a good start to his season in Adelaide, Australia. He ended fourth in 1:22:01, as Germany’s Christopher Linke won in 1:18:59.

‘Training has been going well. I’ve had good solid 130km weeks and two 10-day blocks of good speed and sharpening up, and I’m also working a bit more in the gym now. The faster the races get, the more I need to do gym work.

‘I didn’t train hard here at all. I adjusted my tapering as per how my body reacts and needed more sleep and relax. I found a wonderful route next to the river which is marked every 500m, so it made it easy to train.

‘We started at 3.30pm, which I think is the same time as we’ll start in London. The race went smoothly until 18km. We went fast into the first 10km, but our first kay was strangely very slow. We went through 40.26 in 10km, which was a bit quick for me as my 10km time is normally around 40:50 or so.

‘So I knew I had to really focus to get it right. I lost the two leading guys at around 11km and walked alone for most of the race then. At 18k my legs started feeling weak and I knew I was in trouble. The fourth guy from Germany [Hagen Pohle] was coming up and I wasn’t feeling it. At 19km he passed me. I tried to fight back, but the tank was empty.

‘But still a great race and result, my fourth best time and a World Championships qualifier. Let’s hold thumbs on selection. It was just a pity that we had no support. All the teams had coaches and water assistance people and here we come alone with no support. So we walked to fourth and seventh and we had to get help from our Slovak friends. But we managed, went well and are still smiling.’

Like Oosthuizen, Snyman will also head back on Tuesday and prepare for nationals. ‘I don’t think my legs will be fine by then, but let’s see. I am taking it race by race and that will be nice on home turf and with people supporting me.’

Picture of Oosthuizen on her way to fourth spot courtesy of Miriam Stewartova


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