For years South African sprinters seemed unable to break the 10 second barrier in the 100m dash. But that changed at the South African Senior Athletics Championships in Pretoria in April this year when Simon Magakwe ran to his sixth national title in a time of 9.98 seconds, breaking his previous South African record of 10.06 seconds, which he shared with Johan Rossouw.
After the event Magakwe took time off from numerous media interviews to post a message on Facebook: “I did it South Africa let’s make some noise plzzzzzzz lol 9.98sec I love God and all South African ppl even who don’t love I love u my ppl uv been thr 4me n I made it bcos u wnt it so bad to see it life.thnk u and I feel like crying ths words cums frm my heart.”
The excitement was evident. It had after all been the 27-year-old’s long-held dream to run sub-10, something he didn’t hide, even way back in 2009 when he pitched up at SA Champs with his kit in a Shoprite Checkers bag.
But every champion will tell you that dreams don’t materialise “just like that”, and Magakwe had dedicated himself to succeeding from the outset.
“I worked hard from the beginning, starting off aggressively. I also trained a lot before the race on a gravel road to make my legs stronger – this helped me perform so well.”
Magakwe, who hails from Rustenburg, has been running for as long as he can remember but he only started to take athletics seriously in 2009 after a knee injury meant that he had to stop playing soccer.
Soccer’s loss was athletics’ gain, and in 2010 he competed at the African Championships in Nairobi and won the bronze medal in both the 100m and 200m.
Now he has his eye on a place at the podium at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
“I’m focusing on keeping my form and being consistent.” — Fatima Asmal