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Kalmer races in Japan

By Mark Etheridge

Rene Kalmer takes her next steps towards her Olympic marathon dream when she runs the Yokohama Marathon in faraway Japan on Sunday.

The versatile Gauteng athlete will line up for her fourth attempt at the standard marathon distance of 42.2 kilometers after making her debut in the Soweto Marathon two years ago.

With just over eight months to go before the 2012 Olympics in Londin, the Olympic qualifying A standard is 2hr 37min, and the B standard is 2:43, although many federations often set their own, tighter performance standard.

Kalmer’s quickest time of 2hr 34min 47sec came in her second, and first international, marathon in Prague, Czech Republic earlier this year.

But she’s planning on going a bit quicker than that come Sunday. “I want to use Sunday’s race to qualify for the Olympics,” confirmed Kalmer to Road to London 2012 from Yokohama on Friday. “I want to try and get as close to 2hr 30m min as possible.”

Kalmer has been dogged by ITB (knee) problems this year and has had to pull out of races on occasion. But she said on Friday: “It’s sorted, I hope, because I haven’t felt in the last couple of weeks.”

She’ll be up against a quality field on Sunday, with three of the elite runners having times quicker than 2:24. Quickest is Britain’s Mara Yamauchi, sixth in the 2008 Olympic marathon, who ran 2:23:12 in London while Kenya’s Selina Kosgei has run 2:23:22 and the host nation’s Yoshimi Ozaki has a 2:23:30 to her name.

The Yokohama event is one of three official Japanese qualifying races for next year’s Olympics.

Painting the picture ahead of Sunday, Kalmer said “luckily its not too cold here but the only thing is that they are forecasting rain for Sunday.

“Training wise it’s all been going really well. I haven’t changed much in terms of training, I’m just much stronger in my workouts. And this time I’m looking forward to the race, not so scared as I was in the previous two marathons.”

Kalmer’s last marathon was also in the east, the 2011 World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea where she clocked 2hr 38min 16sec.