Poor Sth Afn with Bolt

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SA’s fastest man may soon face Bolt

by Wilhelm de Swardt | 03 June 2009 (23:52)

South Africa’s fastest man, Simon Magakwe, dreams about running against the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt and that will become a reality very soon.

Over the next six weeks, Magakwe will join Bolt at the starting block. But he won’t be competing with the world champion – Magakwe will be learning about real speed from the Jamaican lightning bolt.

Bolt surprised people across the world last year at the Olympic Games in Beijing when he won the 100m in a world record time of 9,69 seconds and then went on to set up a new world record in the 200m (19,30 sec).

Decision-makers at the Jamaican Athletics Federation were moved and impressed when they heard the story of Magakwe. The speedster is so poor that he arrived at the South African meet in Stellenbosch with his clothes in a plastic bag and won the 100m at the SA senior event in second-hand running shoes.

His winning time was 10,21sec. It was the first time in almost ten years that a South African athlete set such a fast time.

Only eight South African athletes have been faster over 100m.

Jamaica’s athletics authorities contacted Leonard Chuene, chairperson of Athletics South Africa (ASA) and invited Magakwe to join Bolt and his training mates as they prepare in Jamaica for the World event in Berlin.

An ASA official said that Magakwe couldn’t stop smiling after he met Bolt. “It looked like he had stars in his eyes.”

There is a good chance that Magakwe will at least run once against Bolt in an official race.

There are plans for Magakwe to take part in a few races in Europe in July.

It is quite unbelievable how quickly Magakwe’s life has changed since March.

The athlete from Carletonville does not have much. His only income is the bit of money that he makes by taking photographs for ID books.

There is no money for running shoes. Fortunately, Hezekiel Sepeng, the Olympic medal winner, heard of his dilemma and gave him a pair of shoes three years ago.