With under two weeks to go before team South Africa departs for the pre-Olympic training camp in Deagu, Korea the last track qualifier Rene Kalmer showed exactly why she is in the shape of her life.
Kalmer did this with a convincing win in the Breakthru Midrand 15km, clocking 58min:5sec.
The luxuries of a professional athlete are not for this tough 27-year-old Roodepoort flyer who made it as the 1500m entrant via her 4:06,71 second-placed time in Madrid a week ago, behind Ukraine world champion Iryna Linchenka.
The well-built runner is back in her classroom at Noordhuewel Hoer Skool marking the Grade 8 and 9 accounting exam papers.
"It was a nice easy training run for me today, I planned to run under 3:45 per kilometre, which I stuck to except for the last three kilometres, which were big uphills. There is no point in hurting myself so close to my dream," she said.
Remarking on her qualifying run, her 22-year-old sister Christeen, who is studying civil engineering at Arkansas University, was amazed with her performance.
"She came back from eighth place in the last 400 metres. I have never seen her this strong before, she now has a world-class kick on her," Christeen said.
Her fellow West Rand teammate Irvette van Blerk, who finished fourth (62:25), had another reason for her sudden improvement in form.
"We practice pilates at the gym and they have this difficult leg exercise called the teaser, which she does well, I am sure that is what has helped her," she joked.
Kalmer was realistic in her Olympics expectations.
"I just want to see how far I can go, from now until the first heat on the 19 August I have to hold myself back, stay healthy, injury-free and make sure I peak at the right time. I am currently ranked 26th in the world and the semifinals will be contested between the best 24 athletes.
"I just have to up my game by two places to be there, after that who knows. The final will be contested not necessarily by the 12 best girls but by the 12 best that can cope with the pressure best," she explained.
In the 15km race, she was followed by Moleboheng Mafata (58:54), first junior Maxine Hein-Wacker (60:29), Van Blerk and Mpho Mabuza in 62:31.
The men's race was an all- Gauteng Striders affair with Nkopane Seqhopane first in 47:43, followed by Tsidisio Bosiu (47:44), Raphael Segodi (48:11), Ethiopian Maru Ondo (48:27) and Vusi Yalobusha (Powerade) in 48:42. - Sapa