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Statistics show that SA sprint duo can make World Champs final
- Updated: August 19, 2015
On Saturday, when they line up to take on the world’s best sprinters at the World Championships in Beijing, both Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies can make South African athletics history.
Judging purely by the World Championships results from 2005 to 2013, both have a realistic chance to qualify for the 100-metre final. With a little bit of luck they might even be able to contest for a medal. Statistically speaking all they need to do is improve their best time of 9.97 seconds by 0.02sec.
Of course it should be remembered that no Championships race has ever been won by doing calculations on paper and comparing past results. But it is still interesting to note that, starting with Helsinki (2005) and ending with Moscow (2013), the eight fastest times run by athletes to book a place in the 100m finals varied from the fastest time (9.89 seconds), run by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in the Berlin (2009) semi-finals, to the slowest time (9.95 seconds), run by another Jamaican Asafa Powell, also in Berlin.
In Helsinki (2005), Osaka (2007) and Daegu (2011) athletes were able to qualify for the 100m final with times that were mostly slower than 10 seconds. In Osaka no athlete managed to break 10 seconds in the semi-finals. In Helsinki Justin Gatlin (US), who won his semi-final in 9.99 seconds, was the only athlete who was able to dip under 10 seconds before the final. In 2011 Yohan Blake (Jamaica), who won in 9.95 seconds, was the only sub-10 seconds athlete in the semi-finals.
In Helsinki the bronze medal was won in a time of 10.05s; in Osaka it was 9.96s; in Berlin 9.84s; in Daegu 10.09s and in Moscow 9.95s. This certainly proves that, if Simbine and Bruintjies are anything near their best, they might have a realistic chance to contest for the bronze medal.
Werner Prinsloo, who coaches Simbine (Tuks/HPC), said his athlete has his sights firmly set on qualifying for the 100 metre final.
‘Akani fully realises that he will have to improve on his best time of 9.97 seconds if he wants to have an impact on the Championships. Qualifying for the final will be a major highlight for him. On a good day Akani might even improve on the South African record.’
Prinsloo compares his sprinter’s dedication to that of a boxer who sometimes has to train a whole year for only one fight.
‘Sprinting is all about marginal gains. An athlete sometimes has to train up to nine months, trying to master one small change in his technique, in the hope that it would enable him to run faster times. In short, it boils down to being patient and dedicated, while realising that all your efforts might be in vain. The problem is that there are many things that athletes cannot control, like the weather and the way in which the meeting is organised.
Prinsloo ascribes the recent success of the South African sprinters to a three-year learning curve. ‘During the past three years athletes such as Akani, Henricho, Wayde (Van Niekerk) and Anaso (Jobodwana) have had ample opportunities to compete against athletes in the rest of the world. They were able to learn what to do to improve and become competitive in the international arena. It is one thing to be your country’s champion but something totally different to win internationally.
‘Another factor that contributed to the success of our athletes is that we have come to realise that the likelihood of a coach and an athlete to achieve success on their own is slim.
‘Like the rest of the world our athletes now have access to a proper support team, consisting of a coach, physiotherapists, dieticians, sports psychologists, strength and conditioning experts and doctors. Akani’s every need is taken care of at the University of Pretoria’s High Performance Centre (hpc).’
Picture of Simbine courtesy of Reg Caldecott