South African sprinters Akani Simbine (right), who won gold, and Henricho Bruintjies, who took silver, celebrate after finishing first and second in the 100m final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games last month. Photo: EPA

The last three years have been anything but kind to Henricho Bruintjies as he went from the king of South African sprinting to one of the top contenders.

Bruintjies was the sole 100-metre record-holder for a brief moment in time in 2015 before Akani Simbine equalled his time just four days later.

The next year Simbine relegated Bruintjies to former record-holder status and since then the latter has been battling for his place in the sun.

But the tide could be turning for Bruintjies after winning his first medal at a major championship, when he finished second behind Simbine in the 100m final at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The medal served as a reward for his dogged determination and a good measure of self-belief over the last three years.

“I always believe in myself and that is why I call myself the king because I believe I possess the talent and the ability to do great things even though I haven’t achieved all what I want to,” Bruintjies said.

“I want to be the best in the 100 metres and winning the silver medal was just a stepping stone to a space where I know I can be.”

Bruintjies became only the third South African to dip below 10 seconds when he shaved 0.01 seconds off Simon Magakwe’s then national record at a meeting in Switzerland in July 2015.

His time of 9.97 seconds was the first and last time he managed to post a sub-10 second time.

He flirted with the barrier in Turku, Finland last year in July where he stopped the clock in 10.06.

Bruintjies posted the fourth fastest time of his career in Pretoria in March this year with a time of 10.18, suggesting he is returning to his best.

“I started my season off well and now I need to see if I can get my times down a bit,” Bruintjies said.

“I don’t want to be known as an athlete that can only run championships or just post fun times without winning medals. I want to be an all-round athlete and I want to now run some sub-10s after winning the silver in Australia.

“I am definitely capable of doing it and I also need to get the SA record back.”

The South African record is currently held by arch nemesis Simbine with the 9.89 he clocked a month before the 2016 Olympic Games.

Bruintjies admits he needs to consistently post fast times again and dip below 10 seconds to stand a chance of breaking the national mark.

“I just want to get my times down because it has been a while since the last time I ran fast times,” he said.

“But I am getting back there and I am in shape to do that kind of thing so I just need to go out to meetings and see if I can execute.”

Bruintjies will open his international campaign at the Taiwan Athletics Open in Taipei on May 25.


Saturday Star

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