‘I can go faster!’

2012-05-05 19:26

If there is one aspect that stands out in 100m champion Simon Magakwe, it is his self-confidence.

After spending a day with him at his club’s base in Phokeng, Rustenburg, in North West this week he made the claim that he would be the first man in the country to officially break through the 10-seconds barrier.

“In my dreams I see a headline screaming ‘the first South African sprinter to win an Olympic medal, Simon Magakwe.’ I can go faster than 10.06 but will this change my life? Or am I just running for fun? I need a better life.”

Magakwe equalled Johan Rossouw’s 24-year-old record during last week’s Student Championships at the University of Johannesburg.

“I slowed down a bit towards the finishing line. That was very easy, I didn’t even realise I ran that fast,” said Magakwe, who turns 26 this month.

The Athletics Royal Bafokeng runner has credited his long-time coach Eugene Thipe for his rapid progress.

He added that he gathered valuable experience when he trained with Usain Bolt and the reigning world 100m champion Yohan Blake during a three-month training camp in Jamaica three years ago.

The Caribbean island tour was arranged by ousted Athletics South Africa president Leonard Chuene.

This was after Magakwe belied his novice status with some sterling performances during the 2009 season.

He ran a breathtaking 10.21 to clinch his first national title, which he has now defended four times.

His script upon entering the local athletics was a classic “from humble beginnings” tale.

He didn’t even own proper running spikes until Hezekiel Sepeng presented him with a second-hand pair, which the 1996 Olympics silver medallist had collected to assist disadvantaged but talented runners.

“I remember it was during one of the league’s meeting in Potch and he said to me: ‘they will make you run faster, boy’.”

Today he ranks as Mzansi’s own Bolt, having already bettered his personal best (PB) three times already this season. He started the season on a PB of 10.18 (from last year) and clocked 10.15 and 10.11 last month. “I’m aiming for 9.89; it is achievable,” he said.

If he can crack this mark, Magakwe could be a medal contender as the medallists in the last three Olympics all dipped under 10 seconds. In fact, 9.89 won silver at the 2000 Games.

“I just hope that setting the records will change my life at some point so that I can reward my mum, who has always been there for me.”

Magakwe, originally from Itsoseng near Mahikeng, is an only child and was raised by his single mother, a domestic worker in Carletonville.

“She was a sprinter herself at school and has always encouraged me to do my best on the track.”

Today, not only has Magakwe run faster in the 100m and the 200m but he is on track to qualify for his maiden Olympics.

The third-year Sports Science student at the University of Potchefstroom has achieved the Olympic A-standard in the 100m four times and the 200m twice.

On Friday, he took the SA Open Championship 100m title with 10.18 in a race in which he was hoping for a sub-10.

In terms of the stringent Sascoc qualification criteria, Magakwe must still do it one more time in an international event to book his ticket to London. “My heart is on my sleeve but I have a God-given talent and can make the country proud,” he said.

His first European race will be in the IAAF World Challenge in Ostrava, Czech Republic on May 25.

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