Carina Horn proved on Thursday night with her winning time of 11.16s in the 100 metres at the Paavo Nurmi Meeting in Finland that the hunt for the South African record is still on. But she was not the only South African to excel. By winning the 100 metres in 10.09 seconds, Henrico Bruintjies ensured that the South Africans made a clean sweep in the short sprints.
He improved on the meeting record set in 1997 by the Namibian sprint legend, Frankie Fredericks. After the race a confident Bruintjies said to his coach, Hennie Kriel (Tuks/HPC), that he could have broken 10 seconds if the weather played along. The temperature was 15 degrees with intermittent rain.
Evette De Klerk’s South African 100m record (11.06s set on 20 April 1990), is one of the oldest records on the South African athletics record book. Geraldine Pillay is the only athlete who came close to improving it when she ran 11.07s in 2005 in Durban. During the past few seasons South Africa’s female sprinters have run ‘pedestrian’ times compared to what was happening in international athletics.
However, Horn started what will hopefully be the revival of South African women’s sprinting last year when she ran times of 11.21s and 11.17s at European meetings. This means that she is currently jointly the third fastest ever local sprinter. Marcel Winkler also ran a time of 11.16s in 1990.
Horn said it was quite difficult to warm up properly before her races because of the severe cold: ‘I just decided that I was not going to allow the cold to prevent me from staying focused on what I had set out to do, which was to win. I was quite relieved when I crossed the line and looked back to see a time of 11.17s on the stopwatch. My time was rounded off to 11.16s which is a personal best for me.’ Horn said she was happy with her start, but towards the end of the race her legs felt ‘dead’ because of the cold: ‘Hopefully it will be warmer the next time I race.’ When Horn left South Africa to train in Linz, Austria, under the guidance of Rainer Schopf, her best time in the 100m was 11.59s.
Horn says: ‘The reason for this improvement is that, for the first time, I am being coached to focus on the right things. Rainer keeps emphasizing that the 100m is a very technical race and he has me working on small technical details for hours on end to help me to become faster. We decided that I would run only the 100 metres sprint because training for the 200 metres is something totally different.’ Although Kriel, a Tuks/HPC coach, is delighted with Bruintjies’ performances he emphasised that it is important to stay realistic: ‘In a South African context times of 10.10s may be exciting, but we as coaches and athletes should never forget that if we want to be competitive internationally our athletes need to break 10 seconds. But it is gladdening that the athletes are now able to consistently run times faster than 10.10s. As far as I am concerned it is just a matter of time before they will break through. In our training group, which includes athletes such as Thando Roto and Gift Leotlela, Henricho is the trendsetter who proves to the youngsters that there are no limits. I can confidently predict that the current performances by Henricho, Akani Simbine and Anaso Jobodwanas are just the beginning. As they say, “Watch this space”. South Africa’s sprinters will get better and better. There is no reason why we cannot be one of the top-three sprinting nations in the world, behind the US and Jamaica.
Meanwhile, the South African 110-hurdles champion, Antonio Alkana, made sure of qualifying for the World Championships in Beijing by finishing third in 13.47s last night. Khotso Mokoena won the long jump with a distance of 7.91 metres with Zarck Visser second in 7.82 metres. Jerry Motsau was third in the 1 500 metres in a time of 3:39.15.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott