Thando Roto
Given the country’s depth of talent, national record holder Akani Simbine believes the 100m final at the senior championships in Potchefstroom in April could produce one of the greatest races in the world.

Simbine and rising star Thando Roto made history at the Gauteng North Athletics Championships at the Tuks track in Pretoria on Saturday when they became the first two South Africans to dip below 10 seconds in the same race.

“It is going to be huge (the SA Championships), a couple of records are going to fall there, I feel like history is going to be made there and more than two guys are going to go sub-10 in that race,” Simbine said.

“It will probably one of the best 100m races in the world and not just in South Africa.”

He crossed the line in a time of 9.92 seconds with Roto clocking 9.95secs to become the fifth South African to dip below the magical mark and the second fastest man in the country.

Realising what he had achieved, becoming the second fastest South African, Roto reflected, then burst out laughing with joy.

“It just clicked now, I am the second fastest South African behind Akani I knew if I can beat him I can better myself because I knew he was the better athlete in the race,” Roto said.

Stellar local performances over the weekend has made the world sit up and notice South African track and field, including national records and a new global mark.

It was raining firsts over the weekend with Olympic silver medallist Luvo Manyonga setting the tone when he leapt to a new South African record of 8.62m on his first attempt in his specialist long jump event.

Improving Khotso Mokoena’s previous national mark by 12 centimetres, Manyonga can start his pursuit of the global record in earnest.

Manyonga said it was about time that long jumpers got closer to American Mike Powell’s 8.95m record he set back in 1991.

“The world record has been a goal for me even before I started doing long jump, and I wanted to be the first person on earth to jump over nine metres,” Manyonga said.

“If you see what I am jumping now, you can see there is something in my legs. At the moment I am jumping at 99 percent.

“I’m very happy with myself where I am changing the game, I think it is time to take the limelight from the track and put it on the field events.”

Wresting the attention away from the track proved to be only a brief interlude as the country’s sprinters gave the world more reasons to take notice of what is happening in South Africa.

During the morning heats, 18-year-old Gift Leotlela set a new South African junior 100m record when he clocked 10.12secs in the heats, chopping 0.07secs off Simbine’s mark from 2012.

On the first day of the championships, 16-year-old Sokwakhana Zazini posted a new world youth best in the 400m hurdles with a time of 48.84 seconds, improving the previous global mark by 0.17 seconds.

Hennie Kriel, who coaches Zazini, Leotlela, and Roto, has for long predicted that five South Africans would dip below 10 seconds in the same race on home soil.

Rounding off the championships Fredriech Pretorius became only the second South African to break through 8 000 points in the decathlon when he amassed a total of 8 002 points.

At the Western Province Championships, Rocco van Rooyen unleashed his second longest javelin throw with a heave of 84.09 metres to book his place for the world championships.

The Star