JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 14, Irvette van Zyl crosses the line to win during the 2012 Johannesburg Spar Womens Challenge at Old Parktonians in Randburg, on October 14, 2012 in Johannesburg, South Africa Photo by Reg Caldecott / Gallo Images

Johannesburg – South African marathon athlete Irvette van Zyl has withdrawn from this year's London Marathon with a persistent injury, the athlete announced on Friday.

Van Zyl finished 10th at last year's London Marathon where she improved her personal best by more than two minutes, crossing the line in two hours, 31 minutes and 26 seconds (2:31:26).

In the process, she qualified for the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, Russia but had to withdraw from the South African team with synovitis (inflammation of the synovial membrane) in her right knee.

“Is there ever a good time in an athlete's career to get that news of your worst fears where the doctor tells you, you can't run,” Van Zyl said.

“At the end of September, my knee got worse and I couldn't control it anymore.”

Van Zyl was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and she had an arthroscopy done in October.

After intensive rehabilitation her knee started swelling again and the synovitis could leave her sidelined for up to three months.

“Looking at the rest of 2014, the London Marathon was one of biggest goals for the year,” she said.

Van Zyl said she would now have to reassess her goals for the year. She has her sights set on the Berlin Marathon at the end of September where she would be targeting a sub-2:30 time. – Sapa