By Mark Etheridge
An Olympian in Rio last year, sprinter Henricho Bruintjies’ career seemed to have hit a brick wall when, despite meeting the IAAF qualifying standards, he was left behind for the recently completed World Championships in London.
Bruintjies had to look on as fellow sprinters Wayde van Niekerk and Akani Simbine went on to win two medals and end fifth in the 100-metre final respectively.
But the Western Cape athlete is not quick to throw in the towel when he’s down and the latest development in his career sees him hooking up with sprint coach Morne Nagel.
Nagel is one of the more knowledgable sprint coaches around, having coached SA champion Alyssa Conley to the Rio Olympics last year and having been there and done that, as a 4x100m relay gold medallist for South Africa back in 2001.
The Johannesburg based coach says he thinks the key to getting Bruintjies to be a sub-10sec blitzer once again will be the right support structures.
‘I’ve spent time with him at the last two South African training camps in Gemona, Italy,’ he told Team SA. ‘Henricho’s been through some tough times, not injury-wise, but what’s missing is a support system that will work for him.’
Nagel says priority No1 will be to get him under the psychological barrier of 10sec again.
‘I’m also a believer of the 200 so he’ll do some 200m races purely for training purposes. When we have him there then I’d say sub 9.90sec is on the table but having said that I’m not somebody who wants to chase times… it must happen by itself.
‘Apart from that support system the athlete obviously needs to click with the coach… if that happens you’ll see an athlete who regularly runs under 10sec.
‘I’ve long said that we don’t really have bad coaches.. often it’s just a matter of the athlete and the coach not clicking and if that’s not happening the athlete won’t perform.’
Nagel doesn’t see himself as having to go back to basics with Bruintjies. ‘HB is very talented and we all know that he can sprint. I won’t have to start from scratch with him but my training techniques are different from other coaches so he needs to get used to that at first.’
Will Bruintjies be back… at pace? Watch this space!
Picture of Bruintjies courtesy of Roger Sedres/ImageSA