More than 40 years after American Jim Hines broke the 10-second barrier in the men's 100 metres event, Simon Magakwe's coach believes the sprint sensation can follow suit this weekend.
Magakwe, the national champion for the last four seasons, broke new ground in his career in Pretoria last week, clocking 10.06 seconds to equal the SA record set by Johan Rossouw in 1988.
And while the elusive 10-second mark remains a challenging barrier, Eugene Thipe is confident his charge can not only dip under the mark, but he can do it on home soil.
Magakwe returns to the capital city for the two-day SA Open Championships, the last event of the domestic track and field season, which starts on Friday.
“If he can do everything he's been doing in practice, he can go even faster than last week,” Thipe said on Thursday.
“He can definitely go under 10 seconds.”
Hines became the first person to dip under the barrier, with the use of electronic timing, when he clocked 9.95 to win gold at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
With strict Olympic qualifying criteria forcing athletes to set standards in overseas competition, and with Magakwe's sights set on the London Games in July, Thipe believed he could go well under 10 seconds this season and break South Africa's hoodoo in the most prestigious of track events.
“I think he's got a 9.8 in his legs if everything comes together,” Thipe said.
“We want to peak in London, and I believe when he peaks he can run 9.8 seconds.”
Aside from Magakwe, Thipe is performing wonders with a group of sprinters at his training base in Rustenburg, which includes his wife, versatile speedster Tsholofelo Thipe.
With world 400m champion Amantle Montsho confirming her participation in Pretoria this weekend, Thipe was confident his spouse would put up a challenge against the global superstar from Botswana.
Thipe set her personal record of 51.15 seconds in Stellenbosch in 2009, and while she has been close to her best this season, Montsho holds a superb pedigree, having clocked 49.56 to win the global title in Daegu last year.
“Tsholo is not a coward. She won't let Amantle lead her to the finish,” Thipe said.
“I have taught my group to run hard from the start. They are quite short sprinters, not tall and leggy, and when their strides start to shorten they need to have made up the stagger.
“Tsholo is strong, she's run 2:07 over 800m, and I don't think Amantle has done that.
“So she's got the stamina and endurance you need in a 400m race. We're not afraid of anything.”
The SA Open Championships will offer one last chance for Olympic hopefuls to reach the qualifying standards in their events on home soil.
The meeting has also been given some international flavour, with athletes from 19 countries taking part. – Sapa