World championship relay gold medallist Lee-Roy Newton became the fastest man over 100m in the history of South African athletics when he was timed at 9.95 seconds in the 100m final at the KwaZulu-Natal Athletics senior provincial track and field championships in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Should this time be ratified by Athletics South Africa (ASA) he will join an elite group of just on 50 sprinters who have managed to break through the 10-second barrier in the history of world athletics and will also be in line for an ASA incentive bonus of R50 000 for any athlete who breaks a South African record.
Running in Saturday's 100m final, Newton flashed across the finish line virtually deadlocked with his Fast Feet clubmate and training partner, Dean Wicks, who was timed at an equally impressive 10.00sec.
Fast Feet coaches, Mark Labuschagne and Victor Vaz, said they were "astounded" when they glanced at their stop-watches to see that both showed sub-10 seconds.
"We could not even separate them visually," said Vaz.
Labuschagne said that he had been "ecstatic" at the time.
"I was astounded to learn that the official hand-held stop-watch time was 9.78 which compared with my time of 9.93 and Victor's 9.78 while the official electronic time showed up as 9.95.
"Now we face an agonising week or so to see if ASA are going to ratify the time, and if they do so, it will not only be a new South African record, but one of the fastest times for the 100m."
The official ASA record for the 100m stands at 10.06sec and was set in 1988 by Johan Rossouw.
Labuschagne said that Wicks's time of 10.00sec for the 100m was probably the fastest time ever recorded for a white athlete, and was all the more remarkable as he had achieved it within two hours of having won the 200m final in 20.33sec.
Newton, who is 28 years old and lives in Durban's Morningside suburb, was formerly from Port Elizabeth. He came to Durban in 1999.
Newton has placed second the past four years in succession at the national senior championships after winning the SA Under-23 100m title in 2000.
"I knew it was a fast race," said Newton, "but everything seemed to fall into place from when I came out of the starting blocks until I breasted the tape."
Newton said he had been a little wary at the start as he had false-started the first time and had waited for the gun.
"When Mark came up to me to show me his stop-watch we were amazed," said Newton.