Fans go wild as Magakwe breaks 10-second barrier

13 April 2014 - 02:59 By RAMATSIYI MOHOLOA
SPEED KING: Simon Magakwe
SPEED KING: Simon Magakwe
Image: Sunday Times

Sprinter Simon Magakwe became a celebrity and was trending on Twitter yesterday after setting a 100m record at the SA Athletics Championships in Pretoria.

The 26-year-old Magakwe made history by becoming the first South African to break the 10-second barrier in the event. The achievement saw him shatter the record of 10.06sec he jointly held with Johan Rossouw.

People inside the stadium, including some of his fellow athletes, went wild as they gave Magakwe a standing ovation.

Later Magakwe was posing for photographs with fans, while others asked for autographs after his historic achievement.

Guided by former sprinter Eugene Thipe, Magakwe clocked 9.98sec, with Akani Simbine second in 10.02 and Emile Erasmus in 10.23.

"I know a lot of people thought I was crazy when I said I want to break the 10-second barrier at these championships," said Magakwe.

"I wanted the title so bad that I was not going to be with myself if it did not happen. I was hoping to do 9.87 seconds, which was the dream of my coach Eugene.

"Winning a sixth consecutive 100m national title was not going to be good enough if the new record was not there, it was my ultimate objective.

"The beauty of this achievement is that I set the new record on home soil with a South African coach. We have great coaches here at home too.

"People go to the United States of America, Europe and Jamaica. I do everything here at home, including my training for big global competitions.

" I will only go overseas when our season is over."

The Phokeng, Rustenburg-based sprinter is hoping to continue with his impressive form at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland and African Senior Championships in Morocco in July and August respectively.

He is the reigning 200m champion on the continent.

"The two events form part of the build-up to the 2016 Olympics. We also have the World Championships next year.

"I still want to pursue the dream of 9.87sec but it will be at a latter stage," said Magakwe, who later withdrew from the 200m to celebrate his achievement.

Magakwe was praised by top US-based sprinter Anaso Jobodwana, who was also at the University of Pretoria to watch the championships.

"This is absolutely fantastic. Simon did a great job. It shows we have athletes with potential. There is also a great future for our relay team."

In the women's 800m Caster Semenya reclaimed her national time by winning in 2:03.06. "I'm happy with the title but not the winning time. It's a bit slow," said Semenya.

"I hope to improve on the issue of time because I'm now injury free.

"The bigger picture for me is winning gold at the Commonwealth Games on debut."

The men's 800m event was won by Andre Olivier in 1:47.66.

In the field events Sunette Viljoen won her ninth national javelin title with a throw of 64.77m, which was the reigning World Student Games champion's best distance in two years.

Cornel Fredericks went on to win the 400m hurdles race in 49.24, and Cornelia Joubert is the 10000m queen after clocking 35:49.40.