Munayi is part of us - Simbine
For a 19-year old to think that he can beat the South African record holder in the 200 metres, the record holder in the 100 metres as well as an Olympic Champion at the national championships in Potchefstroom could be seen as slightly arrogant.
But then again Clarence Munyai (TuksSport High School) has never been one to shy away from a proper challenge. Last year he surprised by winning the 200 metres title at the South African Championships in Stellenbosch and he is not about to relinquish it without a proper fight. Whoever wants the title will need to out-sprint him on Saturday afternoon.
Don’t get him wrong. Munyai's has a great deal of respect for Anaso Jobodwana, who set the South African record in 2015 in Beijing running 19.87s. The same goes for Akani Simbine (Tuks) who ran a record time in the 100 metres last year by clocking a time of 9.89s. Earlier this season Simbine became only the third South African athlete to dip under 20 seconds in the 200 metres when he ran a time of 19.95s.
Wayde van Niekerk’s performances in the 400 metres at last year’s Olympic Games and the 2015 World Championships speak for itself. Van Niekerk is no slouch in the 200 metres, having clocked a best time of 19.94s.
“I consider all three of them to be heroes and to race against them will be a dream comes true. In fact I think tomorrow’s final is going to be world class race. Akani and I already have run respective times of 19.95s and 20.10s this season. In last year’s Olympic final it would have been good enough to win a silver and bronze medal. We all know what Wayde and Anaso are capable of.
“That race in Pretoria in which I ran 20.10s to set a new South African junior record proved to me that I can race against the best as I was able to stay with Akani up to the finish line. If I don’t win tomorrow it is not going to be the end of the world. All that matters is that I know that I have run to the best of my ability.”
Simbine was full of praise for Munyai's gutsy performance in Pretoria.
“I don’t see Clarence as a youngster anymore. When Clarence lines up next to me I see him as a competitor. The same goes for Usain Bolt or Justin Gatlin or any of the other top guys. Clarence is part of us as far as I am concerned.”
Weather permitting and if Munyai is able to execute the perfect race he could make sprinting history by becoming only the second junior athlete to dip under 20 seconds in the 200 metres. The legendary Usain Bolt ran a time of 19.93s in 2004. Munyai’s time of 20.10s ranks him fifth on the IAAF all-time junior list.
Gift Leotlela (Tuks) who won the 200 metres in 20.28s at the South African Junior Championships in Cape Town also has the ability to win a medal on Saturday. He proved that he has big match temperament last year when he won a silver medal in the 200 metres at the World Junior Championships in Poland.