at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
The fastest man in South African history, Simon Magakwe, may as well have been salivating when he spoke at the weekend about the prospect of lining up against some of the best sprinters in the world in the next three months.
Magakwe became the first man in this country to clock under 10 seconds for the 100-metre dash when he smashed the record in 9.98 sec at the SA Senior Athletics Championships last month.
And before setting the new benchmark, Magakwe had equalled the previous record of 10.06 seconds owned by Johan Rossouw since 1988.
The 28-year-old has now set his sights on conquering the international stage, where he is set to go head-to-head with, among others, the fastest man on the planet, Usain Bolt.
Magakwe, who comes from humble beginnings in his hometown of Itsoseng near Mafikeng, aims to set the global stage alight when he competes in five high profile meets in the northern hemisphere.
Alongside Bolt, the star-studded list of speedsters Magakwe is expected to compete against in some of the meets include Ryan Bailey, Richard Thompson, Asafa Powell and Churandy Martina – all of whom competed in the 100m final at the 2012 London Olympics.
On the prospect of challenging the world’s best sprinters, Magakwe said he feels like he’s in his prime and is ready to take on the world.
“I have never been more ready in my life. The last six years of competing have prepared me for this. I have been through some tough times in my career so far but they have all brought me to where I am at the moment,” a determined Magakwe said yesterday.
In Europe, Magakwe will race with the ultimate objective in the back of his mind of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games taking place in Glasgow from July 23 to August 23.
“Yes, the plan is to go out there and run good races against top athletes in the world. But the main goal for the year has always been to compete at the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
Although Magakwe has rewritten the record books, he believes running sub-10 consistently is critical. “I need to run even faster. I ran under 10 seconds once and I need to do it more often now. It can’t just be a once-off as the guys overseas run under 10 seconds in their sleep. I can’t afford to run slower than my personal best. I need to go faster.”
Magakwe’s overseas expedition will see him compete in Eugene (US), Rome (Italy), Marrakech (Morocco), Oslo (Norway) and Ostrava in the Czech Republic).
Magakwe’s agent Oliver Topueth said 2014 is set to become a big year for his client, so they’ll be careful not to over-race the speedster.
“It’s important we accept invitations to only a selected number of events. We will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to add more races to the schedule.”
The North West University athlete’s globetrotting won’t end at the five race meets as he’ll divert his attention to the Commonwealth Games and the Africa Senior Athletics Championships in Marrakech from August 10-14.
Magakwe’s international schedule
May 31: Diamond League Eugene, 100m
June 05: Diamond League Rome, 100m
June 08: World Challenge Marrakech, 100 and 200m
June 11: Diamond League Oslo, 100m
June 17: World Challenge Ostrava, 100 and 200m - The Star