Irvette van Zyl

Updated: January 14, 2013

Event: Women’s Long Distances
Date of birth: 1987/07/05
Personal bests: 1 500m (4:17.49), 3 000m (9:29.78), 5 000m (16:17.01), 10 000m (34:19.94), 10km (32:50), Half-Marathon (1:10:56), Marathon (2:31:26)
Major achievements:
Half-Marathon: 2010 World Championships, Nanning (49th)
Cross-Country: 2002 World Junior Championships, Dublin (18th); 2003 World Junior Championships, Lausanne (16th)

As a gangly teenager, Irvette van Zyl (nee van Blerk) held her own among South Africa’s elite distance runners. She seems to have found her niche on the road, and looks set to focus on the marathon after a promising, albeit injury-ridden, initial foray over the distance. She withdrew in the latter stages of the 2011 Soweto Marathon, after falling early in her debut 42km race, but six months later she made up for that disappointment when she finished 18th in the London Marathon, clocking 2:33:41 to qualify for the Olympic Games. Van Zyl returned to the English capital later in 2012, but her Olympic debut came to an end when she dropped out before the halfway mark with an Achilles injury. She bounced back, however, by clocking an impressive personal best of 2:31:26 to finish 10th in the 2013 London Marathon. Though she struggled for most of the season with a back injury that caused a loss of feeling in her foot, Van Zyl began regaining some of her best form at the end of the year. Van Zyl is married to 400m hurdler LJ van Zyl.