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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

Irvette van Zyl joins Hollywoodbets AC

After almost fifteen years in green, Irvette van Zyl has changed colours and will be wearing purple this season. In what will certainly be one of the biggest moves of 2023, the 50km World Record holder has joined the Hollywoodbets Athletics Club. The three-time Olympian says joining the Purple Family was an easy decision because now 35 years old, she is looking for a place where she can enjoy her running with a club that believes in her and her dreams.

In signing van Zyl, Hollywoodbets AC have acquired a top runner who will surely appear on the podiums of the country's biggest marathons and ultra marathons. Although the second fastest South African woman ever to run 42,2km did not feature at the Soweto Marathon in November because she had signed up to run the Valencia Marathon in December where she ran a personal best 2:26:11, she did take second place at the Totalsports Two Oceans 56km in a titanic battle against Gerda Steyn. van Zyl's 3:30:31 was still five seconds inside the former course record of 3:30:36 set by the legendary Frith van der Merwe in 1989.

van Zyl says she is looking forward to being part of a club where she can enjoy her running. Photo Credit: Hollywoodbets AC.

And while her exact race schedule for the year ahead remains a closely guarded secret, it looks like a return to The People's Race could be on the cards. "The Soweto Marathon is one of the toughest marathons in the country because of the altitude elevation and long climb to the finish. So, smashing the record by 2 minutes was a huge achievement for me,” she said reminiscing about her 2:33:43 performance at the 2018 edition of the race.

Perhaps few will be more pleased with luring van Zyl away from the Nedbank Running Club than Hollywoodbets AC President Morgan Shandu. Convincing the mother of two to leave a club whose attention she first attracted when she won the SA Cross Country Championships as a 14-year-old back in 2001, would have taken some doing. And in adding the four-time national champion to a club that already boasts 2018 Comrades Marathon winner Ann Ashworth and 2022 Two Oceans Runner-up and Comrades gold medalist Nkosikhona Mhlakwana, Shandu and his team are putting in place more pieces of the purple puzzle.

van Zyl completing the 2022 Valencia Marathon in Spain where she came within 43 seconds of Gerda Steyn's national record. Photo Credit: Supplied.

"Irvette becoming a part of the Athletics Club forms part of our bigger picture and vision of having top athletes who have a strong desire to perform their best, and to give back to the community. We are excited to have her onboard in what promises to be an excellent 2023 athletics season,” he said.

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