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Ready, steady go for South Africa’s fastest men at Stellenbosch
- Updated: April 14, 2016
South Africa’s top male sprinters have managed to break most of the ‘magical barriers’ over the last two years.
The one that continues to elude them is the sub 10-second 100-metre race at sea level in South Africa and now the big question is will it happen on Friday at the South African Championships in Stellenbosch.
Simon Magakwe became South Africa’s proverbial sprinting pioneer in 2014 when he won the national title in 9.98s in Pretoria. In March Akani Simbine (Tuks/HPC) set a new South African 100m record in Pretoria, winning in 9.96s. Wayde van Niekerk (Kovsies) ran 9.98s in Bloemfontein.
Simbine is the only sprinter who has managed to run a sub 10-second race at sea level. He did so last year in July when he won the gold medal in 9.97 at the World Student Games in Gwangju, South Korea.
This season he has only raced twice. Apart from his record-breaking effort during the ASA Night Series-meeting at Pilditch, he won the 100 metres at the Gauteng North Championship in 10.01 at the same venue. These two performances might lead many to believe that it is a foregone conclusion that his winning time will be faster than 10 seconds at the South African Championship on Friday.
Simbine however makes it clear that when he lines up for the final, the last thing he will be thinking about is the time he is going to run. ‘I’m not that obsessed with running times right now, I’m just going to go and do what I need to do and that is race to win. If the time comes it comes.’
Werner Prinsloo, his coach, does not rule out the possibility of sub-10 second race. ‘Sprinting can be very unpredictable. Who knows, if the athletes fire on all ‘cylinders and the weather plays along it might be a magical race?’
Prinsloo also coaches Henricho Bruintjies(Tuks) who many consider to be the only sprinter capable of preventing Simbine from winning his second national title.
According to Prinsloo it is not as difficult as many might expect to coach two athletes who both aspire to the bragging rights of being South Africa’s fastest man. ‘Akani and Henricho have their own focus as to what their respective goals are and what they need to do to achieve it. They respect each other. My job as their coach is to keep them motivated.”
‘As far as the South African Championship is concerned Akani’s goal is to defend his title while Henricho will be out ‘hunting’ for the same. It has the makings of an interesting and hopefully exciting race.”
So far this season Simbine and Bruintjies have only raced each other at the Gauteng North Championships. Bruintjies was second in 10.28s. Last Friday at a meeting in Sasolburg, Bruintjies won in a time of 10.20s which proves he is getting faster.
The fact that the top sprinters will have to race the heats, the semi-finals and the final on the same day could make for tough racing.
Neither Prinsloo or Simbine are too concerned about it. ‘It doesn’t bother me really. It’s just what we have to do. I’m trusting that I’m fit and ready to go through all the rounds,’ said Simbine.
According to Prinsloo it is not the first time that the sprinters will be challenged by having to race three races on the same day. The same happened at the national championships in Pretoria in 2014.
‘Personally I think there could be some advantage in doing it all in one day. It is easier for an athlete to get into the right mind-set and stay focused than it is to race one day and then have to switch of and get re-focussed for the next day’s racing. In 2014 I could see how the sprinters got more worked up as they got closer to the final.’
Having to race three times in one day means that neither Simbine or Bruintjies will compete in the 200m Prinsloo feels that it might be pushing the limits.