Munyai sets himself tough challenges
There is nothing more Clarence Munyai loves more than a good challenge, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he has set his sights on the South African under-20 200m record.
The 20.16 seconds which Riaan Dempers ran in 1995 in Germiston is one of the oldest South African junior records. Munyai ran a best time of 20.36 seconds last year to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio meaning he is only .2 of a second off Dempers' record pace.
Munyai certainly wasted no time to show that he is in good form. At the Eagles Club Classic Shootout series which took place at the University of Johannesburg he won a race over 300 metres in 32.87s. By doing so he became the first South African junior athlete to dip under 33 seconds.
A proud Hennie Kriel said Munyai’s time would have counted as one of the 20th fastest times in the world run by senior athletes in a 300 metre race last year.
“This proves to me that Clarence is on the verge of making an international breakthrough. Lee-Roy Newton (his agent) and I are in agreement that Clarence should get the opportunity to race internationally. Where he may compete will depend on the times he runs. If he is fast enough he might even make his Diamond League debut.”
Apart from his quest to match Dempers' record he also wants to try and defend his South African senior 200m title. He fully realises that it is going to be a big task as the early indications are that Wayde van Niekerk (Olympic and world champion over 400 metres), Anaso Jobodwana and Akani Simbine will all be racing at the national championships in Potchefstroom as well.
Jobodwana is the current South African record holder with a time of 19.87s, while Van Niekerk boasts a best time of 19.94s and Simbine 20.16s.
“They are all world class athletes. To be racing against them will be an awesome experience. The only thing I can do is to run the near perfect race. If it is good enough on the day to win it will be an amazing experience. One which I will cherish for a very long time,” said the 18-year-old Munyai who will also be defending the national junior 200m title.
Kriel is a firm believer that his athletes should set their own goals.
“It is the athletes who have to settle down in the starting blocks to race so I think it is only fair that they decide what their goals are going to be. My role as the coach is to help them achieve it. I want our athletes to think big when it comes to racing as it is the only way they can become true champions.”
In terms of his record breaking performance in the 300m, Munyai admits to being slightly surprised.
“It is the first time that I ever raced 300m. I expected that one of the more experienced 400m athletes would win. I was just out there to have fun.”
At a league meeting at Pilditch stadium, the sprinter ran a time of 10.47s in the 100 metres. His best time is 10.28s.
“I prefer racing the 200m. The 100m is just something I do to help me become stronger over 200 metres.”