SPAR PROTEAS TO PLAY TEST SERIES AGAINST WALES

Durban, South Africa - With the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League done and dusted, the cream of South African netball will be in action again in June, when the SPAR Proteas meet Wales in the three-Test SPAR International Challenge at the ICC in Durban.

Lenize Potgieter of South Africa and Rosanna Pretorius of Wales compete for the ball during the match between the SPAR Proteas and Wales on day 5 of the Netball World Cup 2015.

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


It will be a real feast of netball, as the three Tests will be preceded by matches between the South African and Welsh Under 21 teams.
The Proteas last played Wales in the Netball World Cup in Sydney last year, when South Africa beat Wales by 60 goals to 38. South Africa also beat Wales in the European Championships in Belfast last year.
The Proteas have played Wales 11 times, winning every time. South Africa are currently ranked fifth in the world and Wales are ranked eighth.
The matches will be played on Friday June 17, Saturday June 18 and Sunday June 19.
Tickets for the matches cost R20 and are available from Computicket.

Fixtures for SPAR Challenge;
Friday June 17 18h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21
20h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales
Saturday June 18 16h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21
18h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales
Sunday June 19 12h00 SPAR Baby Proteas v Wales Under 21
14h00 SPAR Proteas v Wales




SOUTH AFRICAN NETBALL TRAINING SQUAD ANNOUNCED FOR TEST SERIES AGAINST WALES

Durban, South Africa - Netball South Africa has announced a 25 member training squad ahead of the SPAR Challenge international netball test series against Wales in Durban next month.
The training squad was announced after the final of the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League at the Durban Ice Arena in Ethekwini, Kwa-Zulu Natal on Saturday.
The team from this squad for the SPAR Challenge will be announced on Thursday 4 June 2016.
SPAR training squad: Charmaine Baard (Southern Stings), Erin Burger (Stings), Sigrid Burger (North West Flames), Lauren-Lee Christians (Free State Crinums), Rome Dreyer (Flames), Marlize de Bruin (Golden Fireballs), Elsje Du Plessis (Kingdom Stars), Maryka Holtzhausen (Crinums), Rochelle Lawson (Stings), Lindie Lombard (Gauteng Jaguars), Izette Lubbe (Jaguars), Tshina Mdau (Jaguars), Phumza Maweni (Kingdom Stars), Palesa Mbukwana (Mpumalanga Sunbirds), Fikile Mkhuzangwe (Flames), Karla Mostert (Crinums), Bongiwe Msomi (Stars), Thulisile Nhleko (Sunbirds), Precious Mthembu (Stars), Lenize Potgieter (Jaguars), Alicia Puren (Crinums), Jeanie Steyn (Jaguars), Renske Stoltz (Flames), Nadia Uys (Flames), Zanele Vimbela (Eastern Cape Aloes)
Ends


SOUTH AFRICAN DOUBLES TEAM CAPTURE GOLD AT WORLD TENNIS CHAMPS

Umag, Croatia - Two of South Africa’s top Young Senior tennis players Lettica Venter and Bruce Young proved that one gets better with age when they won the coveted 45+ Tennis World Championships mixed doubles title in Croatia this past week. They went one better in this World Championships having reached the final of the same tournament last year.

From left to right; Bruce Young and Lettica Venter of South Africa winners of the 36th Young Seniors World Individual Championships 2016 mixed doubles 45+.

Picture credit: Tennis South Africa


Venter and Young both from Kwa-Zulu Natal won the gold medal in Umag, when they beat Liselot Prechtel and Sander Groen of Netherlands, 6-4 6-2 in the final.
Young of Hillcrest also teamed up with fellow South African Robert Dick of Western Province to reach the men’s doubles semi-final where they won the bronze medal.
Venter from Ballito also reached the women’s singles semi-final of the same tournament.

“We are very happy that we eventually won the title. I am relieved that all our hard work paid off and we could overcome our injuries in time to be ready for the tournament” said Venter.
Young and Venter teamed up together in their first tournament back in 2011. Since then the two play most tournaments together and are very comfortable with each other’s game on the court.
“I feel that we combine well together and we always joke that Bruce is the touch and I am the power” said Venter.

Young said that the World Championships were of a very high standard. “Only the best enter and this year was no exception. We are unfortunately not used to play on the clay and it is definitely not a surface that we both feel comfortable on. However we adapted and enjoyed the tournament although it was quite nerve wrecking at times - especially in the finals”

Venter added that their opponents in the final were experienced players. “Sander Groen still plays ATP doubles tournaments. He has a long history that includes Federer as his doubles partner. He was a difficult opponent and being left-handed made things a bit more tricky for me. He tried hard to intimidate us and we had to focus on trying to isolate his partner Lisa Preshtel. She stood her ground well and it was not easy to brake their serves.”
I feel we both pulled through at the right times and are so grateful to have won this title. It was an awesome experience. Thank you to my partner - it was a real team effort!


NINETY CHALLENGES FOR EVERGREEN SONJA LAXTON

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Sonja Laxton, who has been breaking records on the track and on the road almost all her life, set another record on Saturday when she ran her 90th SPAR 10km Challenge.

Sonja Laxton ran her 90th SPAR Women’s 10KM Challenge race on Saturday, 07 May 2016 at Pollok Beach in Port Elizabeth

Picture credit: Wayne Webb


What makes her achievement even more remarkable is that two and a half years ago, Laxton was in intensive care, fighting for her life, after a horrific accident in which she suffered multiple fractures. At the time, it was thought she might never walk again, let alone run.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Laxton, who was the third Grandmaster home, in 49.43 minutes.
“The wind was really pumping, but I really enjoyed the race. The Port Elizabeth race is always special to me. I was at school here, and I had some very happy years in PE. I am very biased towards the Friendly City – I even feel I breathe better here than in Cape Town or Durban, although they are all at sea level.
“The first race I ran after my accident was in Port Elizabeth, so that was also something special.”
Laxton said it seemed a very short time ago that she had run her 80th SPAR race at the Wanderers in 2013.
“It goes quite fast,” she said.
“I would like to go on to get my century – I feel like a cricketer, in the nervous nineties. But if I run four or five races a year, I should get there.”
There was a time when Laxton was always the top runner in her category, but she has slowed down in the last couple of years, and can no longer claim to be the fastest in her age group.
“That doesn’t worry me,” she said.
“I think it might have, before the accident. But my perspective has changed since then, and I just feel privileged to be able to run. I certainly hope to keep on running as long as I can.”


VAN ZYL HAS NARROW LEAD IN GRAND PRIX STANDINGS

Port Elizabeth, South Africa - With back-to-back SPAR 10km Challenge victories under her belt, Irvette van Zyl has a slender lead on the Grand Prix points table after the second race in the five race series.

runners1.jpg : Irvette Van Zyl leading the Spar women’s PE challenge on Saturday at 7 May the 7km mark with twin sisters (lebogang D Phalula) and Lebo Phalula close behind in second and third spot.


Van Zyl who won the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth races, has 40 points. She is followed closely by the defending champion, Lebogang Phalula, who has 37 points, after finishing third in Cape Town and second in Port Elizabeth. Christine Kalmer and Nolene Conrad are in joint third position, with 29 points. Kalmer was fifth in Cape Town and eighth in Port Elizabeth, while Conrad was seventh and sixth in the two races.
Van Zyl, who won the Grand Prix in 2010 and 2011, said she was pleased to be in the lead, but there was a lot of work to do.
“I haven’t been able to break my last year’s time to get bonus points,” she said.
“The conditions in Port Elizabeth were against recording a fast time, and I had run the London Marathon two weeks before the race. I think we have all been focusing on other events – the SA championships were just before the Cape Town race, and several of us ran marathons shortly before the Port Elizabeth race,” said Van Zyl.
“A lot of us have been trying to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio, either on track or on the road. But I think it will be very exciting when we run in Durban, because we will all have had a break, and things will be more even. I think that is where we will all be trying to break last years times and get that crucial advantage in the Grand Prix.”
Three of the junior runners who are being mentored by the six Grand Prix winners are among the top 20 in the open category on the Grand Prix ladder.She also heads the junior category, with 20 points. Ashleigh Simonis, who has been partnered with Lebogang Phalula, is in 13th place, with seven points, and Chery-Lee, who is being mentored by three times Grand Prix winner Rene Kalmer, is in 18th place, with four points. Simonis and Van der Merwe are in joint second position on the junior ladder, with 187 points each.
KPMG heads the club standings, with 139 points, followed by Boxer with 121 and Nedbank with 77.
The next race is in Durban on June 5.

Ends


RAIN NO CHALLENGE FOR NELSON MANDELA BAY RUNNERS

Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Nelson Mandela Bay may have served up some typically challenging weather, but the metro’s runners turned out in their thousands to tackle the 23rd SPAR Women’s Challenge at Pollok Beach on Saturday.

With Port Elizabeth comedian Gino Fabbri urging them on in his inimitable style, the participants’ spirits remained high as they lined up for the 10km and 5km events respectively.
Not even a gusting easterly wind and rain could dampen their fortitude as they emerged from a variety of sheltering spots for their runs.
The conditions meant a tough finish as the last two kilometres were into the teeth of the wind.
Johannesburg’s Irvette van Zyl, who is hoping to be selected for the Rio Olympics, outlasted her opponents in the 10km feature race to take her second Grand Prix Series victory of the year in 33:28.
She was followed by the Phalula sisters, who, in a display of spirit which typifies the SPAR races, came across the line arm-in-arm. Officially, Lebogang took silver in 34:09 with Diana-Lebo a further second behind.
Van Zyl, who had a baby last year, said she was particularly pleased to have won her first-ever SPAR race in the Windy City.
“The conditions weren’t that good, but I was very happy coming over that line. It was very special.
She said having a child had changed her focus.
“I think I’m more relaxed about my training. I take it as it comes and am not over-stressing as I used to do.
“I just break everything down into small periods, set my goals and then focus on what’s ahead of me.”
While Van Zyl was the talk of the day, plenty of grit and determination was shown across the running spectrum.
In the 5km, Sydenham’s Thuliswa Maka, 25, continued a remarkable run of having competed in every event since she was nine.
“I love this race. I have been running it for 15 years and every year I make the effort to enter.
“The ambience, the people and the vibe is so great that it really helps me and even the rain was nothing,” said Maka.
“I have a good selection of T-shirts from all the colours over the years and next year I will be doing it again.”
Lorraine’s Nikita Drury, who ran the 10km, said it was “an awesome experience”.
“The conditions were pretty tough, especially the last two kilometres, but it is always such a nice race,” said the 24-year-old.
Parkside’s Toegeda Vyver, who completed the 10km in 47 minutes, echoed the thoughts of her 9 000 fellow competitors.
“I would never miss it, whatever the conditions. The spirit of the race is still there.”
Garth Taylor, who performed live to a soaked but enthusiastic audience, shouted “don’t worry about the rain, you’re already wet” as he pointed the microphone to them to complete a line from a well-known hit.
SPAR Eastern Cape marketing director Abri Swart paid tribute to the participants.
“Women are the glue that keeps the community together,” he said, “and this event is to show what deep respect we have for the women in the community.”
He said it served to introduce women to the sport and a healthy lifestyle at the one end of the scale, while on the other it was a platform for the country’s top runners to compete at the highest level.
Swart confirmed SPAR’s additional contribution to the community, with R150 000 of the proceeds being donated to the Northwood Children’s Hospice and R100 000 to the Association for the Physically Disabled.


BACK TO BACK SPAR VICTORIES FOR VAN ZYL

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Two weeks after finishing 15th in the London Marathon, Irvette van Zyl notched up her second consecutive SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge victory when she braved wet and windy conditions to win the Port Elizabeth leg at Pollok Beach in 33.28 minutes on Saturday morning.

Irvette Van Zyl (winner) leading at the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge, followed by Lebo-Diana Phalula (3rd place) and Lebogang Phalula (2nd place) at Pollok Beach on Saturday morning.

Picture Credit: Mark West


The Phalula twins, Lebogang and Diana-Lebo, were second and third, in 34.09 and 34.10 minutes respectively.
Van Zyl, who won the Cape Town race in April, led from the start. She and the Phalulas broke away at about three kilometres and Van Zyl opened up a sizeable gap between six and seven kilometres.
“I wanted to run behind someone else because it was so windy, but it was very pedestrian at the start, with no-one willing to take the lead. So the twins and I went ahead and we ran together for quite a long way,” said Van Zyl.
“There was a bit of an uphill between six and seven kilometres and I was able to break away then. At that stage, the wind was coming from the side, so it wasn’t too bad. The last two kilometres, along the beachfront, were tough because the wind was in your face. I was a bit worried, but then I realised that everyone would have the same problem.
“I was so happy to win in Port Elizabeth, I’ve always hated the PE race because I’ve never been able to win here before. I almost felt like crying when I crossed the finish line, because it was like a dream come true,” said Van Zyl.
Van Zyl said she had taken things easy after the London Marathon, so she didn’t really feel the effect of the marathon in her legs.
“I’m running well at the moment because I’m a mother,” she laughed.
“Louis is eight months old today, and LJ (her husband, 400m hurdler) and I are very happy and relaxed. I think we are in a better routine because of the baby. My focus is also different – I am not planning ahead for the whole year, I just set my goals for the next month or so.
“Irvette was just too fast for us,” said Lebogang Phalula.
“Lebo and I ran with her for a while, but she got away from us on the hill. “
Phalula said she had not allowed the weather to affect her enjoyment of the race.
“I wanted to enjoy the race, and I did. Lebo gave me the race at the end – we ran together all the way. I felt better today than I did in Cape Town, when I had competed in the South African championships the day before.”
Diana-Lebo Phalula qualified for the Olympic Games Marathon in the Netherlands two weeks ago, and Lebogang said she would be travelling to Europe to try to qualify for the Rio Games in the 5000m.
The first three juniors home, Simonay Weitsz, Nicole van der Merwe and Ashleigh Simonis are all part of the SPAR Grand Prix mentorship programme, with SPAR Grand Prix winners lending a guiding hand.
Meanwhile, the queen of road running in South Africa, Sonja Laxton, made history when she ran her 90th Challenge race.


NINETY CHALLENGES FOR EVERGREEN SONJA LAXTON

Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Sonja Laxton, who has been breaking records on the track and on the road almost all her life, set another record on Saturday when she ran her 90th SPAR 10km Challenge.

Sonja Laxton ran her 90th SPAR Women’s 10KM Challenge race on Saturday, 07 May 2016 at Pollok Beach in Port Elizabeth.

Picture credit: Wayne Webb


What makes her achievement even more remarkable is that two and a half years ago, Laxton was in intensive care, fighting for her life, after a horrific accident in which she suffered multiple fractures. At the time, it was thought she might never walk again, let alone run.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Laxton, who was the third Grandmaster home, in 49.43 minutes.
“The wind was really pumping, but I really enjoyed the race. The Port Elizabeth race is always special to me. I was at school here, and I had some very happy years in PE. I am very biased towards the Friendly City – I even feel I breathe better here than in Cape Town or Durban, although they are all at sea level.
“The first race I ran after my accident was in Port Elizabeth, so that was also something special.”
Laxton said it seemed a very short time ago that she had run her 80th SPAR race at the Wanderers in 2013.
“It goes quite fast,” she said.
“I would like to go on to get my century – I feel like a cricketer, in the nervous nineties. But if I run four or five races a year, I should get there.”
There was a time when Laxton was always the top runner in her category, but she has slowed down in the last couple of years, and can no longer claim to be the fastest in her age group.
“That doesn’t worry me,” she said.
“I think it might have, before the accident. But my perspective has changed since then, and I just feel privileged to be able to run. I certainly hope to keep on running as long as I can.”


TIGHT RACE EXPECTED IN PORT ELIZABETH

Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Port Elizabeth will be the focus for South Africa’s top female roadrunnerson Saturday when they take part in the SPAR Women’s 10km Challenge at Pollok Beach on Saturdaymorning.

Irvette Van Zyl (Winner of the SPAR Grand Prix Cape Town 2016)

Picture credit: Reg Caldecott


The Port Elizabeth Challenge is the second of five SPAR Women’s Challenge races held around South Africa. Irvette Van Zyl won the first race in Cape Town last month, with Nyahora in second place and Lebogang Phalula third.
Van Zyl and two other top contenders, Rene Kalmer and Diana-Lebo Phalula, all ran marathons the week after the Cape Town race, and may still be feeling the effects, but other top runners such as Nyahora, Lebogang Phalula, Mapaseka Makhanya and Christine Kalmer are all in fine fettle and the race should be a tight one. Van Zyl appears to be in the form of her life after giving birth to a son last September and may well be able to shake off the effect of her run.
The queen of South African road-running, Sonja Laxton, will be setting a new record on Saturday when she takes part in her 90th SPAR Challenge. Setting records is nothing new to Laxton – she’s been setting them for more than 45 years and one of her greatest achievements was to become the first athlete, male or female, to be awarded national colours in all three branches of athletics, track, road and cross-country.
In all, Sonja collected 70 national titles, on the track, on the road and in cross-country. She set 28 senior national records over the 1500m, mile, 3000m and 10 000m on the track, and over the half and full marathon distances on the road. She also set numerous SA age group and provincial records.
This year, for the first time, the six women who have won the SPAR Grand Prix – a prize awarded to the runner who fares best in the five Challenge races – are each mentoring a junior runner. Simonay Weitz, who finished 11th overall in Cape Town, has been partnered with Mapaseka Makhanya, and Ashleigh Simonis, who was 12th overall, has Lebogang Phalula as her mentor. Nicole van der Merwe, who was 15th overall in Cape Town, has Van Zyl as her adviser.
Poppy Mlambo, the second Grand Prix winner, has Lebohang Ramela as her junior, while Rene Kalmer is mentoring Chery-Lee Schoeman, who is a pupil at the school at which Kalmer used to teach. Diana-Lebo Phalula is taking care of Keletso Senosi. For the first time, all six Grand Prix winners and their juniors will be running on Saturday.
ends

View Our Archives

View our categories

Subscribe via RSS