Cape Town - South Africans love a new sports star, and young sprint sensation Viwe Jingqi is making everybody excited – except, perhaps, her opponents – with her eye-catching performances in 2022.
But her coach Paul Gorries advises that we should not get “ahead of ourselves” as his protégé prepares for the national athletics championships at Green Point Athletics Stadium in Cape Town from tomorrow until Saturday.
Jingqi, 17, is in matric at TuksSport High School in Pretoria, and made the local athletics world sit up and take notice recently by breaking the SA 100m junior record three times in a day at the national championships in Potchefstroom in 11.22 seconds – an under-18 and under-20 SA record.
The next day, she set a new 200m U18 mark of 23.03sec, eclipsing a 40-year-old record set by Evette de Klerk (23.30).
Jingqi, from Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, followed that up with a comfortable 200m victory at a senior event in Germiston last week, clocking 23.10.
“I don’t get too excited – it’s still a long year ahead. The only reason why she is competing with the seniors is literally to gain a little bit of experience… to put her under a little bit of pressure,” Gorries told Independent Media yesterday.
“This is all in preparation for world juniors (in Colombia in early August)
“In terms of form and shape and where she is now, I believe she can win in the 100m and even the 200m. But I’m not going to put that type of pressure on her. Whatever happens, happens. I just want to see how she literally responds to the pressure.
“Honestly speaking, if I really wanted her to go for the win, I would put her in the 200m, because at this point in time, I don’t think that anyone would beat her in the 200m.
“The only reason I am making her run the 100m (at the national championships this week) is because the competition is a little bit tougher there, and to see how she responds in that environment.
“At this point in time, it’s just the 100m … We are still deciding (on the 200m). We will make a final call tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon.”
In the short sprint, Jingqi will face competition from SA 100m record-holder Carina Horn, who is making her comeback in 2022 after a two-year doping ban.
Horn’s mark is 10.98, but she is unlikely to get close to that time in the 100m final tomorrow at 4pm, with Jingqi the favourite, based on time.
Horn ran 11.43 in Germiston last week, and the 33-year-old will be sure to use all her experience to try and outwit the teenager.
But there is a bigger picture for Jingqi this year, and it doesn’t include the senior world championships or the Commonwealth Games.
“Even if she (Jingqi) does qualify, I would not send her to worlds. Commonwealth Games and the world juniors are at the same time, so Commonwealth is definitely out,” Gorries said.
“The world seniors is just a bit of another (level) … African senior championships, maybe. That’s okay. But should we go there, I would opt for her to run the 200m. If it was not for the weather conditions in Potch, when it was cold and it was raining, the fact that she still ran 23.03 … I definitely think 22 (seconds) is on the cards for her.
“And if she’s fresh and doesn’t have a couple of runs in her legs, she could even get under 11.2 (in the 100m). It’s a matter of planning the season carefully and also not to get ahead of ourselves – and not forget that she is still 17 and in matric.
“World juniors is for her to get into the final. Once she gets into the final, anything is possible. I don’t want to put pressure on her.
“In two years’ time, the goal is to win the world juniors. If she gets into the final (this year) and pulls out a medal, by all means. But I’m not going to put that kind of pressure on her.
“She was at world juniors last year, and made the semi-finals in the 200m as a 16-year-old. And she still ran a PB, which was 23.80 then, and last year was the first time that she was exposed to international competition.”