Cape Town - Luxolo Adams stunned the athletics world with his superb new personal best in the 200m at the Paris Diamond League event at the weekend, but it's been a long time coming.
In fact, his coach, Gerrie Posthumus, believes he can go even quicker ahead of the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon next month.
The 25-year-old Adams – who hails from Burgersdorp in the Eastern Cape – produced the finest performance of his career at the Stade Sébastien Charléty on Saturday night to not only beat Canada's 200m Olympic champion Andre de Grasse, but also set a personal best time of 19.82 seconds to win the race, from lane eight as well.
Adams' effort was the second quickest 200m time in South African history, behind national record-holder Clarence Munyai's 19.69, while he went past Wayde van Niekerk (19.84) and Anaso Jobodwana (19.87) in the local list.
It shattered his previous personal best time of 20.01, which he ran in 2018 in Paarl.
He is now the fourth quickest on the world lead list for 2022 – behind American trio Erriyon Knighton (19.49), Noah Lyles (19.61) and Fred Kerley (19.80), and if he can maintain his form, he can contend for a medal at the World Championships, which take place from July 15-24.
The men's 200m final takes place on July 21, and now it's all about ensuring Adams is in peak shape to take on the world's best in the US.
What makes Adams' run in Paris all the more remarkable is the fact that he had a difficult time at the SA Championships in Cape Town in April, when he finished fifth in the 200m in a time of 21.14, with 20-year-old Sinesipho Dambile taking the gold medal in 20.55.
Posthumus, though, said that Adams had slipped out of the blocks and decided to hold himself back in the second half of that race to avoid getting injured on a cold autumn day in Cape Town, and that it was all about peaking at the right time.
Adams had been battling with injuries over the last few years, and despite leaving Gqeberha for Tuks in Pretoria, he opted to go back home to Posthumus last year.
WOOOOOW 😤— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) June 18, 2022
Luxolo Adams wins the men's 200m in a HUGE personal best of 19.82, beating Olympic champion @De6rasse who finishes 4th with 20.38.
📸 : Chiara Montesano pic.twitter.com/HHKjI4ZLzM
“My plan was for him not to peak at the SA champs. The plan was to peak before worlds … before the qualifying time (date) expired, which is the end of June,” the veteran coach told Independent Media yesterday.
“I sat down with Lux. He was with me in 2017 and 2018, and in 2018, he had an excellent year. He ran in the Diamond Leagues and then he left me and went to Tuks – he thought he was going to do better there.
“Last year, he phoned me and he said he is coming back … He is not performing there, and he's got a hamstring injury.
“They wanted to operate, but we handled it and did conditioning and everything to get him on board again and back. It took me about six months to get him to where he is now.
“He said he couldn't get it right there because of the injuries that he got there. So, he said he feels safer with me here.
“His plan was to go to Tuks to train with faster guys, but it seems like it didn't work out for him. He is a loner, and I know he wants to train alone – on his own.”
Having burst through the sub-20-second barrier, Adams now needs to get his timing just right to be in top shape at the World Championships.
He was scheduled to run a 100m race at the Stockholm Diamond League meeting on June 30, but Posthumus said that won't be happening, as he doesn't want to risk an injury in the shorter sprint so close to the World Championships.
Adams, who is working out of the SA athletes' training base in Gemona, Italy, is likely to run in a smaller event on July 3 in Europe before travelling to Eugene.
“Definitely, he will be able to (go faster). We are building up now to a phase where he can run faster times at the world champs. He's got more in his legs to run faster – he can. We are working more on the bend as well, because he is struggling to come out of the bend,” Posthumus said.
“If you run a 19, you are running a sub-10 in both of the hundreds. You can come very close to, say, 9.9 (in the first 100m) and 9.7 (in the second 100m) or something like that. And he can do it, I know he can do it.
“But the thing is, at the worlds – I am also working a lot on his endurance – as you are going through rounds. You need to make sure that you are ready for the next race. The recovery period must be quick.
“I told him if you could run a 19 – because you have to run a 19 in the semi-finals (at the World Championships) to get into a final. Just get into the final. Anything can happen in the final, where everyone is equal.”*