TENNIS FEVER HITS THE FREE STATE CAPITAL BLOEMFONTEIN

Bloemfontein, South Africa – Tennis fever has hit the Free State capital as it once again plays host to over 400 tennis players from across the country in Bloemfontein, Mangaung this week to participate in the Dunlop Free State Challenge (04 – 08 October 2014).

The Dunlop Free State Challenge which forms part of the National KeyHealth Series has attracted a strong entry and will cater for boys and girls in the under 12, 14, 16 and Open age categories. There will be singles and doubles events in each respective age group in the tournament. The finals of the tournament will be played at the Free State Stadium on Wednesday morning, 08 October.

The following venues will be used; Grey College & Eunice, University of the Free State, Free State Stadium, Mudd Plein Tennis Club, Oranje Meisieskool, Mundene Tennis Club, Oud Studente Tennis Club.

Brand President of Brand Identity Ignite, Steve Gallienne said that his company’s brand, Dunlop is happy to be a sponsor. “We are delighted to be associated with events boasting the cream of South Africa’s junior tennis players. As one of the world’s leading brands, we continue to commit ourselves to the development of tennis in our country especially at grassroots level”, he said.

The tournament will be followed by the Tennis South Africa (TSA) Junior Masters which takes place from 09 – 10 October 2014 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

Following the international announcement in March this year by footwear and apparel manufacturer Nike that they have discontinued the global Nike Junior Tour, Tennis South Africa (TSA) announced a replacement event the TSA Junior Masters.

Gustav Fichardt, Chairman of Free State Tennis junior committee says Free State Tennis is ready to deliver two great events. “We are excited at hosting another edition of the Free State Dunlop KeyHealth Series tournament and especially excited at the TSA Masters. We are confident that both tournaments will be a great success as this has proven in the past, and together with our sponsor partner, Dunlop, we are looking to make these flagship tournaments two of the best of the year.”


NETBALL TEAMS ANNOUNCED FOR POTCHEFSTROOM’S SPAR INTERNATIONAL SERIES

Pretoria, South Africa – Sporting rivalry between South Africa and Australia stretches back over decades, and for many South African sports stars, getting the better of a team from Down Under is sweeter than any other victory.
As much as there is rivalry between two sporting nations, there is also friendship, and both will be on display in Potchefstroom from October 12 to 18 when a South African invitation netball team takes on the Australian Team of Excellence in the SPAR International Series.
The two teams, both made up of players who are 23 or younger, will play three matches against each other, while the Australians will also play the South African Fast5 team in two Fast5 matches.
“We were approached by Netball Australia, who wanted to give their young players some experience in travelling and playing overseas, and we were only too willing to agree,” said Netball South Africa chief executive Blanche de la Guerre.
“It’s a win-win situation, because it means we can give our younger players valuable experience against a team from one of the top netball countries. Some of our invitation team, like Melissa Myburgh, Lenize Potgieter and Kefiloe Tsotetsi have already played for the Proteas, but others are players we have our eyes on for the future. Many of them were part of the South African Under-21 team that played in the world youth championships last year.”
De la Guerre said the Challenge series would be an ideal opportunity to measure South Africa’s development programme against the Australian programme.
“We will also talk to them about ways we can improve our programmes,” she said.
The South African Fast5 team is the team that will play in the Fast5 championships in Auckland, New Zealand, in November, and is a combination of young players and some very experienced players, like former Proteas captain Amanda Mynhardt and the current captain, Maryke Holtzhausen.
South Africa finished fourth in the Fast5 last year, and will be hoping to be among the medals this year.

Teams for the SPAR Netball Series:
SPAR Fast5 Team: Lenize Potgieter (Gauteng North), Mari-Lena Joubert (Boland), Maryke Holtzhausen (Mangaung Metro), Lauren-Lee Christians (Mangaung Metro), Amanda Mynhardt (Gauteng North), Mampho Tsotetsi (Gauteng Central), Phumza Maweni (Western Province), Vanes-Mari du Toit (Gauteng North), Tshina Mdau (Gauteng North). Lindie Lombard (Gauteng North) was named for the SPAR Fast5 team but injured herself on Monday in the Varsity Cup. Netball South Africa will be naming a replacement for Lombard later this week.

SPAR Invitation Team: Lenize Potgieter (Gauteng North), Melissa Myburgh (Gauteng North), Mari-Lena Joubert (Boland), Bhongolethu Ngebeni (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Lauren-Lee Christians (Mangaung Metro), Izette Lubbe (Gauteng North), Sasha-Lee Petersen (Boland), Zandre Kruger (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Kefiloe Tsotetsi (Dr Kenneth Kaunda), Shadine van der Merwe (Gauteng North), Rochelle Lawson (Western Province), Lentsa Motau


AGONY FOR TEAM SOUTH AFRICA

San Luis Potosi, Mexico - Despite giving their all, the South African junior Davis Cup team lost their final round robin match on Thursday at the Junior Davis Cup Final campaign being played in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

Sweden beat South Africa 2-1.

South Africa made a confident start to the tie when Richard Thongoana beat Swede, David Norfolk 6-3 6-4.

But then Sweden leveled matters when their number two player, Karl Friberg beat Calvin Jordaan 6-4 6-3.

A disappointed team coach Jared Temlett said “after a clinical performance by Thongoana, Jordaan just couldn’t carry on the winning run losing in a match which was very evenly matched.
Calvin always gives 100% in matches and it was no different today. Unfortunately for him and the team today he struggled to gain any momentum in the match due to too many unforced errors.”

In the deciding doubles rubber the South African team came out firing all cylinders. However Damon Kesaris and Thongoana could not convert any of their many chances. Kesaris and Thongoana lost to Karl Friberg/Jonas Eriksson-Ziverts 2-6 3-6

“The boys had so many chances” said Temlett. “ Damon and Richard had 21 break point opportunities throughout the match and only managing to convert 2.’

“It was real agony again for the South African team as they gave their all against Sweden today. It was another frustrating day for the team results wise, but on the positive side it has been an invaluable experience for the boys to get the chance to play against the best in the world” continued Temlett.

South Africa now have lost all their Group C round robin matches. On Tuesday fifth seed Argentina beat South Africa 2-1 and on Wednesday third seed Japan beat the South Africans 3-0.

South Africa will now play out for positions 13 - 16 today (Friday) and Saturday.


STILL TIME TO ENTER THE SPAR CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - After a short cold snap, warm weather appears to have arrived in Johannesburg to stay, which means it is time to get out there and enjoy our glorious climate.
The SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at the Wanderers Club on Sunday October 12 provides an ideal opportunity to enjoy Johannesburg’s leafy suburbs at their very best. There is also a 5km Fun Run on the same day, and walkers are welcome in both races. In fact, the vast majority of people who enter the Challenge and the Fun Run are walkers, who make most of the opportunity to get some exercise, catch up with old friends and make new friends.
Johannesburg is looking lovely after the first rains, and the Sonja Laxton-designed routes give you an opportunity to enjoy peeping at some of the beautiful gardens in the plush suburbs of Melrose, Illovo, Atholl-Oaklands and Killarney.
But be warned – with two weeks to go before the race, the closing date for pre-entries is just around the corner.
The cut-off date for online entries has been extended to Tuesday September 30 and the cut-off date for entries at SPAR stores is Wednesday October 1.
Late entries will be accepted at registration at the Wanderers on Thurdsya October 9, Friday October 10 and Saturday October 11, but only pre-entries are eligible for the free race t-shirt.
So there’s no time to lose – get those entries in as soon as possible. Time is running out … tick, tick, tick.
Entry forms are available at all SPAR, Superspar and Kwikspar stores or online at www.spar.co.za / www.sparwomensrace.co.za.


DISAPPOINTING START FOR SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR DAVIS CUP TEAM

San Luis Potosi, Mexico - Team South Africa has made a disappointing start to their Junior Davis Cup final campaign in Mexico.

The South African Junior Davis Cup team after day two play against third seeds Japan San Luis Potosi, Mexico, from front: Damon Kesaris, Calvin Jordaan and Richard Thongoana.

Picture by: Tennis South Africa


In a rain affected first day on Tuesday, fifth seeded Argentina beat South Africa 2-1.

Argentinian number one, Genaro Oliveiri gave the South American team the first point when he beat Durban’s Damon Kesaris 6-3 6-2. Calvin Jordaan from Cape Town then levelled the rubber when he came back from set down to beat Manuel Pena Lopez 4-6 7-5 6-2.
In the deciding doubles rubber the Argentinian team of Genaro Oliveiri and Manuel Lopez were too strong for Jordaan and Richard Thongoana winning 6-2 6-2.

“It was very disappointing as our boys had the tie in their sights” said team captain Jared Temlett. “Unfortunately my boys played very tentatively on crucial points against the Argentinians and eventually lost in a marathon rubber which went on till 21h00 Mexican time. The boys played hard and gave it their best shot, but Argentina proved to be just too good on the day.”

On Wednesday the South African team came up against third seeded Japan, the Group C favourites.

Unfortunately, despite the tie lasting over 6 hours, Japan beat South Africa 3-0.

Temlett said that after the loss Tuesday against Argentina, his team discussed strategy, took the positives out of the loss and moved on. “I really felt that the boys were ready for Japan and could turn thing around” said Temlett.

Temlett said that against Japan “the boys really competed well and while the score was 3-0 in the end, it was a very long and grueling tie as the South African’s boys dug deep against the group favourites.”

In the singles Damon Kesaris and Calvin Jordaan were unable to apply consistent pressure on their opponents as they both played a high percentage of unforced errors.
Shohei Chikami beat Kesaris 6-4 6-3 whilst Renta Tokuda beat Jordaan 6-4 6-3.
In the doubles Kesaris teamed up with Joburg’s Richard Thongona. The Japanese combination of Shohei Chikami and Riki Oshima beat the South African’s 6-7 (4) 6-3 7-5.

South Africa had the match in their hands when they were serving for the rubber at 5-4 in the deciding set. But the Japanese proved resilient and proved to be just too good on the day.

“While there is a lot to take out of Wednesday’s performances, it was a very disappointing day for the boys who were desperate to get a win under their belt. South Africa will give it our best though against Sweden and you can rest assured we will be back fighting Thursday” said Temlett.

Today (Thursday) South Africa will face Sweden in their final group tie before playoffs on Friday and Saturday.


ELITE RUNNERS GEAR UP FOR FINAL SPAR RACE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Elite runners are gearing up in preparation for the final leg of the SPAR women’s 10km Challenge series at the Wanderers Club on Sunday October 12th.

From L-R: Irvette van Zyl, Lebogang Phalula and Mapaseka Makhanya leading the field during the third leg of the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge series, at Sahara Stadium, Kingsmead last month.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Barefoot runner Diana-Lebo Phalula, who is virtually assured of winning the SPAR Grand Prix, started training again earlier this week after a break to recover from a hamstring injury. She won the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth legs of the race in record time, and top four finishes in Durban and Pretoria earned her an almost unbeatable lead of 28 points over her nearest rival, Rene Kalmer.
Phalula’s twin sister, Lebogang, who won the Durban race and finished third in Pretoria, said that she was aiming to finish second on the Grand Prix log.
“Lebo can win the car this year, but I also need a car, and I’ll be aiming to win the car next year,” said Lebogang.
“In the meantime, I want to finish second on the log and win the R30 000 prize.”
Lebogang Phalula won the Cape Town Marathon 10km race on Sunday in 33.22 minutes, and she travels to the Netherlands later this week to run in a 10km race in Amsterdam.
“I’m quite happy with my form. I’m doing well, but I’m not happy with my times. I wanted to run 32 minutes, and I haven’t achieved that yet, but that is my aim for next year. And next year, I will be going all out to win the car in the SPAR Grand Prix.”
She is not the only runner who will be heading for Europe this week. Rene Kalmer is running the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, on what has been described as the world’s fastest marathon course. Kalmer has won the SPAR Grand Prix three times, and was the first runner to win the prize of a Nissan Micra.
Irvette van Zyl, who won the Pretoria Challenge in record time, has been in the form of her life recently, after recovering from serious injury. On August 9, she smashed her personal best by half a minute to win the Totalsports Women’s race in Stellenbosch in 32.20 minutes, equaling Zola Budd’s personal best for the third fastest time by a South African woman. Van Zyl followed up her victory in the Pretoria race by winning the Nelson Mandela Marathon near Pietermaritzburg in glorious fashion the very next day, finishing 19 minutes ahead of her nearest rival.
However, Van Zyl, who had been expected to shine in the Cape Town marathon last Sunday, had to drop out of the race because of a knee injury. It is not clear at this stage if she will be fit to run in the final Challenge race, but if she is fully fit, she could well challenge for second place on the Grand Prix log.
Another contender is last year’s winner, Mapaseka Makhanya, who has not been able to match the heights she achieved in 2013. But she has a strong competitive streak and can never be ruled out.


TEAM SOUTH AFRICA READY FOR JUNIOR DAVIS CUP FINALS

San Luis Potosi, Mexico - The South African Junior Davis Cup team will start their World Junior Davis Cup by BNP PARIBAS Final campaign today (Tuesday) in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

The South African Junior Davis Cup Team in San Luis Potosi, Mexico from left, Damon Kesaris (KwaZulu-Natal), Calvin Jordaan (Western Province) and Richard Thongoana (Gauteng Central)
Photo by: Tennis South Africa


South Africa, one of 16 nations to qualify for the year end final were drawn on Monday night in the C group with Japan, Argentina and Sweden.

South Africa start their campaign against fifth seed Argentina late Tuesday evening (17h00) South African time.

The draw is as follows;

GROUP A
1-France
Hong Kong
Egypt
6-Brazil

GROUP B
4-Korea
Mexico
Italy
7-Estonia

GROUP C
3-Japan
Sweden
South Africa
5-Argentina

GROUP D
2-USA
Chinese Taipei
Bolivia
8-Germany

There will be a round-robin competition within each group with the 4 group winners qualifying for a play-off on Friday and Saturday.


SOUTH AFRICAN JUNIOR DAVIS CUP TEAM JET INTO MEXICO READY FOR WORLD FINALS

San Luis Potosi, Mexico - The South African Junior Davis Cup team jetted into Mexico on Sunday ahead of this week’s World Junior Davis Cup by BNP PARIBAS final.

The South African Junior Davis Cup team from left; Richard Thongoana (Gauteng North), Damon Kesaris (KwaZulu-Natal) and Calvin Jordaan (Western Province)

Picture by: BLD Communications


The finals will be played from 23-28 September in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

The South African team comprising of Damon Kesaris (KwaZulu-Natal), Richard Thongoane (Gauteng Central), Calvin Jordaan (Western Province) and coach Jared Temlett (KwaZulu-Natal) join Egypt as the only African nations in the 16 team competition.

The other teams competing are, last year’s finalists Korea , hosts Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

The team took 30 hours to get to San Luis Potosi and immediately on arrival scheduled practice sessions. “Our boys enjoyed two solid training sessions after the mammoth trip to Mexico: said Temlett.

“On Monday we will have another opportunity for the team to fine tune their game in the morning followed by the opening ceremony and draw in the evening” continued Temlett.

The tournament starts on Tuesday with the top 16 countries drawn into 4 groups of 4 teams. There will be a round-robin competition within each group with the 4 group winners qualifying for a play-off on Friday and Saturday.

Quotes from players;

DAMON KESARIS (KWAZULU-NATAL)

“I’m feeling healthy and confident going into the Junior Davis Cup in Mexico. It’s always a huge honour representing the green and gold especially at such a prestigious tournament. We’ve had an intense four days training camp in Durban before we left, which was really good as we trained hard and feel we are ready for what lies ahead. Junior Davis Cup competition is really tough, but the boys have big hearts and good attitudes which can only lead to success. We are glad to be in Mexico and can’t wait to start competing! Last year the South African boys came 10th which is really good, this year with a solid team and good coach we are striving to reach the top 8, that would be the ultimate.”

RICHARD THONGOANE (GAUTENG CENTRAL)

“I’m feeling ready and pumped up for this great and prestigious tournament. Training for me last week was fun yet very tough fun as I was competing with my team mates and close friends Calvin Jordaan and Damon Kesaris.
The team is ready and all have big hearts to go and play with the best junior’s in the world. Our goal is to try beat our 10th position place last year so we are hoping to be in the single digits zone this year.”

CALVIN JORDAAN (WESTERN PROVINCE)

“I am feeling strong and confident going into the Junior Davis Cup final here in Mexico. I am extremely excited to be participating in such a prestigious event, especially under the circumstances of representing my own country, South Africa. Our team had an intense few days on the court preparing ourselves for the challenges that lie ahead of us in Mexico in Durban last week. We are all confident and ready to compete against the best juniors in the world. Our goal for ourselves would be to go there and give our best performance and to try better last year’s result, ending 10th. So hopefully we can get into single digits this year!”


A TREAT IN STORE FOR NETBALL FANS

Pretoria, South Africa – There will be a feast of netball in Potchefstroom next month when the SPAR South African invitation team takes on the Australian Centre of Excellence in the SPAR International Series from Sunday October 12 to Saturday October 18.
The two teams, both drawn from their country’s under-23 players, will play three standard matches, on Sunday October 12, Tuesday October 14, and Saturday October 18. The Australian Centre of Excellence will also play two Fast5 matches against the SPAR South African Fast5 team, on Wednesday October 15 and Friday October 17.
The South African Fast5 team is the one that will travel to Auckland, New Zealand, for the Fast5 World Netball Series on November 8 and 9.
National coach Elize Kotze, who will be travelling to New Zealand with the team, has welcomed the opportunity to play a team from one of the world’s top netball countries.
“It is a great opportunity to play some really competitive netball ahead of the World Series,” said Kotze.
“South Africa came fourth out of six teams last year, and we are hoping to win a medal this time round. Fast5 is very unpredictable, and anything can happen. It will be very valuable for us to play the Australian Centre of Excellence and sharpen our skills ahead of the World Series.”
Kotze said the netball series in Potchefstroom was also important for the SPAR Proteas’ preparations for the World Championships in Sydney next year.
“The South African Invitation team will be made up of Under-23 players, many of whom were part of the Under-21 team that played in the last world youth championships. There are also a few players who are part of the national squad, and any exposure to top-class, international netball is very important ahead of the world championships. Some of the invitation team could well be challenging for places in the national squad, so I shall be watching them with great interest.”
Dorette Badenhorst, coach of the invitation team, said it was very important that young players should be exposed to international netball.
“A series like this gives us an opportunity to see who can stand up to the pressure of international netball,” she said.
“Not all players are suited to netball at the top level and this series will help us to sort out which players are ready to step up.

Both South Africa and Australia will be announcing their teams early next week.


CALLING ALL SCHOOLGIRLS TO TAKE THE SPAR CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Calling all schoolgirls – SPAR and Mustek are offering you a chance to have a great day out and to do something important for your school at the same time.

The schools that have the highest number of entrants in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge and 5km Fun Run at the Wanderers Club on Sunday October 12 will win computers with Win7 Starter software and School Image.
The school with the most entrants will also win a Brother Flatbed Print, Scan, Fax and Copy printer, and the school with the second highest number of entrants will win a Brother Mono Laser Scan, Copy, Print and Fax printer.
Computers and printers are valuable assets for any school, so learners who help their school to win these will certainly earn brownie points from the teaching and administrative staff.
But there is so much more on offer for learners who take part in Johannesburg’s most beautiful race. The energetic can run either the 10km Challenge or the 5km Fun run, but walkers are welcome in both races. What could be better than spending the morning with your best friends, catching up on the latest gossip and enjoying the fresh air and a look at some beautiful gardens in leafy suburbs like Illovo and Melrose?
Who knows – you might enjoy the day so much that you take up running seriously. Many of the top runners, like Rene Kalmer and Irvette van Zyl, started off running in races like the SPAR Women’s Challenge – they are now professionals who earn their living from the sport they love so much.
Once you have finished the race, there is action galore at the Wanderers, where popular singer-pianist Bongi Mthombeni will have you tapping your toes and clicking your fingers. There will be plenty of food stalls, and as usual, there are masses of fabulous prizes, including a lucky draw for a Nissan Micra and the Bring-a-Buddy prize of New Balance shoes for a lucky entrant and her friend. The first 15 000 pre-entries will receive a free race t-shirt on registration, and the first 15 000 finishers will receive a medal and a goodie bag.
To qualify for the prize, schools must submit all their entries at the same time, and only pre-entries will be eligible for the prizes. Pre-entries close on September 27, so it is time to get cracking and organize as many of your schoolmates as possible to enter the race. You have to be 15 to enter the 10km Challenge, but the Fun Run is open to girls over the age of nine, which means primary schools can also take part and stand the chance of winning one of these fabulous prizes.
Entry forms are available at all SPAR, SuperSpar and KwikSpar stores, or online at www.spar.co.za / www.sparwomensrace.co.za


THOUGHTS TURN TO SPRING AND THE JOBURG SPAR WOMEN’S CHALLENGE

Johannesburg, South Africa - Just when everyone thought it was safe to put away their heaters, winter came back with a big bang and people throughout the City of Gold found themselves shivering once again.

SPAR Women’s Challenge runners, From L-R: Lebo Phalula, Poppy Mlambo, Lebogang Phalula, Ronel Thomas and evergreen racer Sonja Laxton during the SPAR Women’s Challenge Joburg race launch on Tuesday, 02 September 2014 at the Wanderers Sporting Club, Illovo, Johannesburg.
Picture by: Reg Caldecott


But that cold front has moved away, and thoughts have turned to spring and spring in Johannesburg means preparing for the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge and 5km Fun Run at the Wanderers Club in Illovo on October 12.
The course was designed by the evergreen Sonja Laxton, one of South Africa’s most successful runners of all time.
The 10km route takes the runners along Corlett Drive and Oxford Road as far as Riviera Road in Killarney, before zig-zagging back through some of Johannesburg’s leafiest suburbs.
The 5km route meanders through the plush suburbs of Illovo, Melrose, Birdhaven and Atholl-Oaklands, giving runners a chance of peeking at some of the most beautiful gardens in Johannesburg.
Thousands of women of all shapes and sizes are expected to take part in the Challenge or the Fun Run. The first 15 000 to register will receive a free race t-shirt and the first 15 000 to finish will receive a medal and a goodie bag.
The race is well known for the congenial atmosphere, with many entrants making friends for life with someone they met on the road. There is plenty of entertainment at the finish, with acclaimed pianist and singer Bongi Mthombeni ready to have everyone clicking their fingers and tapping their toes.
There is also a Kiddies Area, where youngsters will be cared for and entertained while their mothers take part in the race.
As always, there are wonderful prizes on offer, including a lucky draw for a Nissan Micra, the Bring-a-Buddy competition, where an entrant and her friend can win New Balance shoes, and the schools competition, where the school with the most entrants can win prizes from electronics giant Mustek.
The Johannesburg Challenge coincides with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and proceeds from the race will go to Reach for Recovery, a support group for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The Reach for Recovery volunteers have all had their own encounters with the disease, and so they are in a perfect position to talk to and counsel women who have just heard those ominous words “you have breast cancer.”
While the race is really about the thousands of women who will take to the streets on October 12, there is fierce competition for line honours among South Africa’s elite road runners. Diana-Lebo Phalula is virtually assured of winning the Grand Prix, and receiving the keys to her own Nissan Micra, but a number of runners could finish second on the ladder and win a cheque for R50 000. Among those jostling for second place are three times Grand Prix winner, Rene Kalmer, Phalula’s twin sister Lebogang, who finished third in the Pretoria race on Saturday, after winning the Durban race a week before, and last year’s Grand Prix winner Mapaseka Makhanya. Irvette van Zyl, who has won the Grand Prix twice, has made a late surge, winning the Pretoria race in record time, and on current form, she could pose a real threat to the front-runners.
Entries for the race opened on September 1, and close on September 27, although late entries will be accepted between October 9 and October 12. Entry forms are available from all SPAR, Superspar and Kwikspar stores, or online at to www.spar.co.za or www.sparwomensrace.co.za.


VAN ZYL WINS PRETORIA RACE IN COURSE RECORD TIME

Pretoria, South Africa - Irvette van Zyl was all smiles as she crossed the finishing line at the Pretoria SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge in a course record time of 33.32 minutes on Saturday. It was her first Challenge win since 2012.

Irvette Van Zyl celebrates her win as she crosses the finish line first at the SPAR Women’s Challenge race in Pretoria on Saturday, 30 August 2014.

Picture by: Reg Caldecott


Her Nedbank teammate, Rutendo Nyahora, was second, in 33.50, and the winner of last week’s Durban Challenge, Lebogang Phalula (Transnet) was third in 34.05.
Phalula’s twin sister, Diana-Lebo was fourth in 34.17 and Rene Kalmer (Modern Athlete) was fifth, in 34.40.
The top runners started in a bunch, with Van Zyl and Kalmer taking the early lead, but after two kilometres, the leading group started spreading out. The lead changed hands between Van Zyl and the Phalula sisters, until six kilometres, when Van Zyl surged to the front. Running easily, she was in complete command and never looked like losing.
“This means a lot to me,” said Van Zyl.
“I was determined to make top three, and I feel blessed to have won. I was more relaxed than I was in Durban last week, and I didn’t start as fast as I did there. I wasn’t under any pressure, and that helped.”
She said she had a couple of bad patches between three and five kilometres, but once she went into the lead after six, she just concentrated on her running style, and this paid off.
“I knew the last two kilometres were downhill, and that helped.”
She said the Pretoria race had always been her favourite Challenge race.
“My first win was in Pretoria, as a junior. It is always a tough race, because it is in the afternoon, but I like tough races. There were a lot of hills, which I don’t like as much as I did when I was younger, but it was a tough course, and that suits me.”
Van Zyl said she would try to win the Johannesburg race as well, but her first priority was the Cape Town marathon on September 21.
“Marathons are the real test of your ability as an athlete, but I will always enjoy the shorter distances,” said Van Zyl.
Nyahora said she had struggled to keep up with the lead bunch at the start, but found herself getting stronger as the race went on.
“I wanted a top three finish, and I could see the Phalulas were struggling a bit, so I was happy when I passed both of them.”
Lebogang Phalula, who won in Durban last week, said she had started too fast.
“I battled on the hills,” she said.
“But I had something to prove, because I tested positive for a banned substance in Pretoria a few years ago. I wanted to show that I was back.”
Diana-Lebo Phalula, who won the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races in record times, still holds the lead on the SPAR Grand Prix ladder, and seems likely to win the Nissan Micra awarded to the top runner after the Johannesburg race in October.
More than 26 000 runners entered the 10km Challenge and the 5km Fun Run, and Supersport Park was a sea of blue t-shirts as the runners streamed onto the cricket field.

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