Our sprint­ers have been clock­ing fast times lately, but a closer look shows that they are still slightly slower than Olympic and World Cham­pi­onships medal times, writes

Daniel Mothowagae

CityPress - - Sport - (see graphic).

No South African has won a short-sprint medal since read­mis­sion, but that might be about to change, as three of our sprint­ers have now run the 100m in less than 10 sec­onds and Wayde van Niek­erk even claimed the 400m con­ti­nen­tal record – al­beit briefly.

Nev­er­the­less, they are still some way off what it takes to be the best in the world, es­pe­cially at Olympic or world cham­pi­onships level

The new gen­er­a­tion of sprint­ers has man­aged to chal­lenge the world’s fastest men over the 100m, with Akani Sim­bine and Hen­ri­cho Bru­in­tjies among the new­est mem­bers of the ex­clu­sive sub-10-sec­onds club.

The duo, to­gether with the banned Si­mon Ma­gakwe, ranks in the top 100 of the all-time list of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) over the 100m, an event that is dom­i­nated by Amer­i­cans and Ja­maicans.

Sim­bine and Bru­in­tjies – both 21 and joint South African 100m record hold­ers – have each clocked a per­sonal best of 9.97 sec­onds this year.

But in break­ing the 10-sec­ond bar­rier, their marks still fall short of medal ter­ri­tory when com­pared with Ja­maican Usain Bolt’s Olympic-win­ning and world short-sprint-ti­tle times.

In com­par­i­son, Van Niek­erk is in a class of his own – and ath­let­ics ex­perts tip him as a sure bet to de­liver the elu­sive sprint medal at the IAAF World Cham­pi­onships in Bei­jing, China, next month.

There is good rea­son for the coun­try to hope the 22year-old Univer­sity of the Free State mar­ket­ing stu­dent can make history.

His per­sonal best of 43.96 equates to sil­ver medal times at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2013 world champs – and gold at the 2011 global cham­pi­onships.

Van Niek­erk is among just three ath­letes to run sub44 in one lap so far this year. Oth­ers are Botswana’s

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