Three-time Olympian and record breaker joins Hollywood Athletics Club

Three-time Olympian and record breaker joins Hollywood Athletics Club

We're proud to announce the signing of record-breaking South African running legend, Irvette van Zyl, an athlete with an incredible pedigree behind her.

The 35-year-old Gauteng native won her first major event at the age of 14, at the SA Cross Country Championships in 2001.

This was the start of a phenomenal running career where she switched from the dusty roads of cross country and the tartan of the track to the white-lined tar roads where she has put together an impressive CV.

This includes the Women’s only 50km World Record which stands at 3:04.24, run in Gqeberha in 2021.

She said her love for running began the moment her shoes touched the tarmac and she felt a natural connection leading to a stellar career. “I felt free when I ran on the road.”

This love grew at the same age of 14, when she ran her first ever road race at the SPAR Women’s Challenge where she finished second. “It was a huge moment for me, and that was the moment when I decided that this is what I wanted to do,” said Irvette. That moment has culminated in being selected to represent South Africa on eight occasions, including three Olympics (2012, 2016, 2021).

She now joins the Hollywood Athletics Club. As the second fastest ever marathoner in South Africa, she set her Personal Best (PB) of 2:26.11 Valencia on 4 December 2022, shaving a whopping 2min 30seconds off her previous best of 2:28.40.

Irvette said joining the Purple Family was the best and easiest decision she has ever had to make. She said she was looking for a place where she could enjoy her running and a club that believes in her and her dreams, which is exactly what she has found at the Hollywood Athletics Club.

One of the highlights in her career was when she set up the record in the Totalsports Two Oceans Marathon race in 2022. Irvette led the attack on the climb to Constantia Nek, shortly after the Marathon mark.

It was her aggressive attack up the climb that was instrumental in breaking the course record of 3:30.36 set in 1989 by Frith van Der Merwe. It was only in the closing stages of the race that she was caught by Gerda Steyn.

Irvette crossed the line in 3:30.31, some 35 seconds inside the previous record of Frith van Der Merwe, who ran 3:30.36 in 1989. Athletics experts acknowledge that without her blistering attack, the record would not have fallen.

This was just one of her many excellent performances, the Soweto Marathon of 2018 was another memorable race where she exceeded her own expectations and made history when she broke the standing race record, six months after giving birth to her second son.

“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. Irvette crossed the line in 2:33.43.

Club President Morgan Shandu said, “Irvette becoming a part of the the Hollywood 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.”

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