Wenda Nel has recorded her second international victory of the season on Monday night by winning the 400-hurdles in a time of 55.20s at the Josef Odlozil Memorial meeting in Prague, Czech Republic. But it was the victory of Henrico Bruintjies in the 100 metres that excited South African athletics supporters. Bruintjies won in a time of 10.06s, which is the fastest time by a South African sprinter in an international race at sea level.
His time is 0.02s faster than the 10.08s Akani Simbine ran last week at the Diamond League Meeting in Rome. This means that Bruintjies has qualified for the World Championships in Beijing for a second time. He ran a time of 10.16s in Dakar.
Suddenly South Africa seems to have not only one, but two sprinters who are capable of breaking through the magical 10 second barrier. National champion Antonio Alkana is the other South African who was victorious last night. He won the 110-hurdles in 13.42, but with an illegal wind of 3.2m/sec from behind.
Nel (Tuks/HPC) is satisfied with the way her race played out. She says: ‘It certainly was not one of my smoothest races but I am happy with my time of 55.20s. A head wind slowed me down on the back straight and my technique when going over the last hurdle was again flawed because I led with the wrong leg. But it is still a good confidence booster to know that I am now capable of running times close to 55 seconds consistently. It is really just a matter of time before I start running more 54 second times. I am looking forward to Sunday’s race in Rabat. I might just surprise myself.’ Bruintjies (Tuks) replied in a Whatsapp-message that he was surprised by the way his race played out.
However, Hennie Kriel, one of the coaches at Tuks Athletics and the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria, is not surprised. Kriel says: ‘Henrico is a quality athlete. I knew it was just a matter of time before he would run a fast time. He would probably have done so sooner if he had not been troubled by a hamstring injury.’ But Kriel is also realistic.
He says: ‘It is all very well to be excited about Henrico running a time of 10.06s, but we have to be realistic. In terms of being competitive in international athletics, it is not good enough. He needs to run even faster…break 10 seconds. As his coach I have already made that mind shift. At the moment my training philosophy is entirely geared towards helping my athletes to break 10 seconds. To achieve this does not merely involve working out a new training program and hope for the best. You have to get the athletes to buy into the idea. We have been focussing much more on quality work during our training sessions lately.’ Depending on his recovery from a slight Gluteal Strain, Bruintjies might compete in the 200m at the Bydgoszcz in Poland on Sunday. In Dakar he won the 200m in 20.71s.
LJ Van Zyl (Tuks/HPC) finished second in the 400-hurdles in a time of 49.50s. Russia’s Denis Kudryavtsev won in 49.18s. According to Van Zyl he made the mistake of allowing the Russian to get a too big lead over the first 300 metres. He says: ‘I was happy to be able to finish the race quite strongly.’ Jerry Motsau finished fifth in the 1500m in a time of 3:44:44.
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott