[imagesource: Reg Caldecott]
There’s something about speedsters that capture the imagination.
The world watched on in wonder as Usain Bolt smashed record after record during his career, and I think most of us can recall where we were when Wayde van Niekerk raced to Olympic glory at the Rio 2016 Games in a world record 400-metre time of 43,03 seconds.
Bolt’s face as that time was confirmed tells its own story.
The Jamaican great has 18-year-old Erriyon Knighton, a student at Tampa’s Hillsborough High School in Florida, hot on his heels but we don’t need to look too far afield for the world’s next female sprinting superstar.
In April, 17-year-old Viwe Jingqi set new national Under-18 times in both the 100-metre and 200-metre events, clocking 11,22s and 23,03s respectively.
That makes her the fastest female sprinter in her age group in the world this year, according to City Press, which also labelled Jingqi “a generational talent to be nurtured”:
The aftermath of her record-breaking streak has been a blur for the Grade 12 pupil, but she’s actually enjoying it: “The week has been crazy and tiring at the same time. After running, I didn’t have time to rest, I did back-to-back interviews and people wanted to talk to me.
“It’s been a very hectic week and having to balance it with school work has been tiring. But I’ve always prayed to be recognised by the people of South Africa, so I’m actually loving this and enjoying it.”
Her achievements are all the more impressive when you factor in that Mari-Lise Furstenburg’s 100m record had stood for 38 years and Evette de Klerk’s 200m record for 40.
In the wake of her incredible showing at the SA Junior and Youth Athletics Championships, Carte Blanche took notice.
Jingqi’s story is not without heartbreak (the death of her elder brother in 2021 took its toll) and can hopefully inspire other young athletes to push themselves to make the most of their talent.
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