Clarence Munyai qualified for the 200m World Championships. Photo: Jalal Morchidi/EPA

JOHANNESBURG – Just over a year ago, Clarence Munyai’s exploits in Pretoria sent shockwaves throughout athletics.

The South African sprint sensation wiped out Wayde van Niekerk’s national 200m record with a blistering time of 19.69 seconds, which launched Munyai into 10th place on the world all-time list and took 0.15sec off the previous mark.

Munyai looked like he'd finally deliver on the huge promise he had shown at youth and junior level, but while his performance on his regular training track in Pretoria proved he had the speed, he continually failed to convert it into silverware.

He went into the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games as hot favourite in the half-lap event but finished the final in fourth place after sustaining an injury in his semi-final the day before.

It was a familiar scenario for Munyai, who was disqualified for a lane infringement in the 200m heats on debut at the 2017 IAAF World Championships.

Now, three years after stepping onto the global stage at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Munyai has his sights on the 200m final at the world champs starting in Doha tomorrow, with the hope of challenging for a medal.

“It is something I want to change, I’m not trying to think about it too much but I want to do better this year,” he said.

“At the end of the day it is not about the times; you can run the quickest time in January and come the world championships, people will forget about it. In previous years it was only about the times, I wanted the records and the times, but now the focus has changed. Now I have to produce and get medals.”

That will not be easy with the 21-year-old lining up in one of the hottest events over the last year.

The half-lap event has been dominated by rising American star Noah Lyles, who will be the man to beat after clocking 19.50sec - the fourth fastest time ever - in Lausanne in July.

Defending champion Ramil Guliyev of Turkey, Canada’s Olympic silver medallist Andre De Grasse and Nigeria’s Divine Oduduru have all dipped below 20 seconds this season.

Munyai’s season’s best of 20.04 may not rank him among the contenders but if he finds the extra gear that earned him the national record, he could be in with a chance.

Clarence Munyai goes into the Doha world championships with a different mindset. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Clarence Munyai goes into the Doha world championships with a different mindset. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

“If you do well at these championships it will make you that much more confident for next year (Tokyo Olympics),” Munyai said.

“At a championship, it is about winning the race and not the time. It is about going through the rounds and producing in the final.”

Munyai will have former world 200m bronze medallist and compatriot Anaso Jobodwana for company. Jobodwana’s season’s best of 20.38sec may be slightly off the pace but he has the credentials.

@ockertde

 

The Star

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