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Joubert never expected win

Cornelia Joubert

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 – 24 year-old Cornelia Joubert became South Africa’s youngest ever Marathon Champion after winning the title at the SA Marathon Championships in Oudtshoorn on 3 February 2013. The biggest surprise was that she never expected to win the first marathon that she ever competed in.

“I have only ever run one 32km race and did not do very well, so it was a big surprise to me when I won the Marathon Championships.  I did not put in a lot of preparation for the championships,” said the athlete from Randfontein on the West Rand.  She finished 5th at the 32km RAC City Lodge Tough One on 25 September 2012. Her time was 2:15:09.

Established marathon runner Kim Laxton was Joubert’s biggest competition on the day of the Marathon Championships, as she is more experienced in marathon running, while Joubert was making her debut in the longer event.  The 30 year-old Laxton finished the Oudtshoorn race in 2:47:25, more than a minute after Joubert (2:46:13). In 2012, Laxton finished second at the 32km RAC City Lodge Tough One as she crossed the line in 02:05:40 behind winner Irvette van Blerk.  In November 2011, Laxton won the Rudamans Kaapsehoop Marathon in Nelspruit.

In explaining how she felt before and during the race Joubert commented that “before the race I was so nervous I just wanted to run and get it over.”  She stayed with the runner in the sixth position at the beginning and slowly started moving up the ranks.  She passed the woman in the second position at the 18km mark.  “I ran with Kim for a while, but at the 23km mark I decided to set the pace.  I ran the last 19km on my own and she did not come back.”

Joubert started running at the age of nine, when she competed in the 1200m track event, as well as cross country and was awarded with best athlete in these events up to u/13 level while at school.  She received her first SA colours at the age of 11.  She continued the success and won sportswomen of the year for most of her high school career.

At the age of 19, Joubert was selected to compete at the SA Championships for both the 10km and half marathon, but tells that she was never that good in the shorter distance.  “The 10km events kill me, I really don’t like the distance,” said Joubert.

The new champion looks up to Olympic Marathon runner Rene Kalmer. “I have a lot of respect for her, as she keeps her feet firmly on the ground.  She will always help with advice if you ask.”

In return Kalmer has nothing but good words for the new champion. “I am very proud of Cornelia and her victory.  I am so glad that her hard work is starting to pay off,” said Kalmer.  She also added that Joubert is a very fierce competitor who always gives everything.

For now the champion wants to focus on bringing her times down all races she competes in and she has appointed a coach two months ago to help her achieve this goal.  “Perhaps I can win a 10km medal somewhere in the future or maybe even get close to the Olympic qualifying time in the marathon.”

photo credit: Eddie Cronje

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