Simon Magakwe became the first South African to break the 10-second barrier for the 100 metres at the South African Athletics Championships in Pretoria on the weekend.
Magakwe had the crowd on its feet when he stopped the clock in 9.99 seconds to claim his sixth national title. The time was subsequently rounded down to 9.98 seconds.
‘I wanted it so badly’
“From the start I was aggressive, I just wanted it so badly. The last 30 metres I pushed so hard,” Magakwe told the South African Press Association (Sapa) afterwards.
“What is exciting is my coach [Eugene Thipe] is from South Africa, and not from Jamaica. Everything we do, we do in South Africa.”
Magakwe had narrowly missed the national record he shared with Johan Rossouw of 10.06 seconds in the semi-final by one-hundredth-of-a-second. With his record-setting run, he raced past the time he had shared with Rossouw, who set the national record in 1988.
Second-placed Akani Simbine also bettered the previous mark, in a time of 10.02 seconds, while Emile Erasmus was third in 10.23 seconds.
“The sad thing is I can’t remember a part of it [the race],” Simbine told Sapa “I am just happy that I did my best and ran my PB [personal best]. “I didn’t expect to go even that close (to breaking through 10 seconds), so I am pretty happy.”
The start of big things?
Olympic 200 metres finalist Anaso Jobodwana watched the race from the stands and afterwards went down to the track to congratulate Magakwe. He said he hoped Magakwe’s barrier-breaking run would lead to South African athletes repeating that effort.
“I am really glad for [Magakwe] and Akani, and I am happy for the way it has turned out,” Jobodwana said. “It shows us that we have the potential and we can take it not just from the 100m, but to the 200m, and the 400m, like we’ve already been dominating the 800m.”
Jobodwana, who owns a best time of 10.10 seconds for the 100m, added: “In no time we could have something like Jamaica, because we have the talent, but it is just that athletics doesn’t have the appeal right now.”
With athletes boasting far less impressive personal best times, South Africa won the 4 by 100 metres title at the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, in a national record of 38.47 seconds.
That record still stands, but could be under threat if the country’s top national sprinters get together for a record attempt. Apart from Magakwe (9.98), Simbine (10.02) and Jobodwana (10.10), national universities champion Henricho Bruintjies ran a time of 10.17 seconds in the semi-finals, giving South Africa a foursome that could be among the world’s leading quartets.