WATCH: SA’s Gerda Steyn could be one to watch at the Tokyo Olympics
JOHANNESBURG – Given her constantly improving performances, South Africa’s Gerda Steyn could be one of the dark horses in the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
Steyn, 31, set a new South African record in the women’s marathon over the weekend of 2:25:28 with her ninth place in the Xiamen Marathon and Tuscany Camp Global Elite Race in Siena, Italy, on Sunday.
In the process Steyn beat the previous record held by Colleen de Reuck of 2:26:35, which she set at the 1996 Berlin Marathon.
The reigning Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon champion started competitive running relatively late in her life.
Her first big race was the Comrades Marathon in 2015 at the age of 25, crossing the line in 8:19:08 and finishing an impressive 56th in the women’s race in her event debut.
Steyn knocked over an hour off her time the next year at Comrades as she finished 14th. She had also finished 14th in her first Two Oceans Marathon in 2016.
In 2017, a fourth place in The Comrades Marathon would follow as she finished in 6:45:45. For any athlete, that kind of progression was incredible - but Steyn showed that was only the beginning.
In 2018 she won Two Oceans and finished second at Comrades, while competing in her first major 42.2km event at the New York Marathon. There she finished 13th in a time of 2:31:04 - having improved her time by over 20 minutes in the marathon in a two-year period.
Her steady rise was still nowhere near complete though, and in 2019 she confirmed her status - if she hadn’t already - as a world class athlete. Victories at the Two Oceans and Comrades Marathon would follow, which would make that an incredible year for any distance runner. Steyn, again, had loftier ambitions.
She competed again at the 2019 New York Marathon - taking another four minutes off her personal best over 42.2km as she clocked 2:27:48.
Though 2020 saw the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, that did not stop Steyn from still wanting to break the SA marathon record. At the London Marathon in October, she came agonisingly close to breaking De Reuck’s mark as Steyn crossed the line in 2:26:51 - just 16 seconds shy of the record.
Given her performances, and constant improvement, in both the New York and London Marathons in the last few years; it may just mean Steyn has a real chance of finishing inside the top-10 of the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Olympics - and with a bit of luck a medal cannot be ruled out.
The only certainty is that there’s no telling if we’ve seen anywhere close to the best of Gerda Steyn yet.
African News Agency (ANA)