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SA stars shine

The international athletics season could not have started on a better note for South African athletes after  superb performances by LJ Van Zyl and Cornel Fredericks in the 400-metre hurdles and Robert Oosthuizen in the Javelin in Doha where they finished first, second and third respectively.

US based Peter van der Westhuizen continued the winning trend when he won the men’s 1500m race in Kingston in the Jamaica International Invitational Meet on Saturday, writes Manfred Seidler.

The meet is part of the IAAF World Challenge Series ÔÇô the competition tier just below the Diamond Leagues. Van der Westhuizen just out-dipped America’s Dereck Scott and Rob Myers in a blanket finish (3.45.19 ÔÇô 3.45.24 ÔÇô 3.45.32).

The good performances of the weekend continued as Rene Kalmer ran a personal best and a World Championship marathon qualifier when she finished fifth in her ÔÇ£debutÔÇØ marathon at the Volkswagen Prague International Marathon on Sunday.

Kalmer was with the leaders until 25km, when her leg started to pain after taking a tumble during training this past Tuesday. In hot conditions, halfway was passed in 73.18 and Kalmer thought she was on course for a sub 2.30 ÔÇ£debutÔÇØ marathon. Although she had raced the Soweto Marathon in 2009 and won in 2:44, Kalmer never trained for that race and used it as a training run. ÔÇ£For me Prague is my first real marathon, as I have trained hard for it and I raced it.ÔÇØ

Kalmer literally hit the tarmac on Tuesday during training at Ruimsig stadium when a training partner cut in-front of her and she tumbled to the ground. She thought the physio and rest till Sunday’s marathon had sorted out the niggle; but clearly it did not as she started to feel pain from 25km, slowed down and lost contact with the leaders.

Kalmer finished in fifth overall in 2.34;47. ÔÇ£I have mixed emotions,ÔÇØ Kalmer said from Prague. ÔÇ£I did not know if I should finish or not, the pain was so intense and I was hoping for a sub 2.30.ÔÇØ

Having qualified for the World Championships took some of the disappointment away. It also means she has qualified for the London Olympics (top 10 in an IAAF Gold Label Race is an automatic Olympic Qualifier) providing that SASCOC selects her.

That brings to three the amount of ladies who have qualified for the World Championships in the marathon. Tanith Maxwell ran 2.32.33 in Berlin in September 2010 to become the first women’s marathon qualifier. Annerien van Skalkwyk clocked 2.35.32 in Singapore in December 2010; and now Rene Kalmer has added her name to the list. A formidable team for the Marathon World Cup that is run in conjunction with the World Championships.

The other South African to compete this weekend was Simon Magakwe who finished seventh in in 10.65sec in the 100m in Osaka on Sunday.