Pretoria - Henricho Bruintjies wanted to make his parents proud and in the process he walked away with a new South African men’s 100m record at a track and field meeting in Switzerland on Sunday.
“Whatever I do, I don’t do it for myself but I do it to make my parents proud, and as long as they are proud of me, I am fine,” Bruintjies said in Pretoria on Thursday.
He won his heat at the Resisprint International meeting clocking 9.97s to become only the third South African to break through the 10-second barrier in the 100m sprint.
He shaved 0.01 seconds off the 9.98s record Simon Magakwe set in the final at last year’s Senior Athletics Championships in Pretoria.
Bruintjies’ solitary stand at the top of the pyramid came to an end on Thursday when Akani Simbine joined him as the fastest South African man over 100m when he won the World Student title in South Korea.
Simbine achieved this feat while Bruintjies spent half of the morning speaking to media taking turns to talk to the record-breaking athlete.
“At the end of the day we both want to be the best and he is my biggest competitor at the moment,” Bruintjies said oblivious of what Simbine would do the same afternoon.
“I’m not too worried about it (holding onto the record) because a record will not stand forever.”
Last Thursday Simbine threw down the gauntlet beating Bruintjies with a time of 9.99s in Slovenia to become only the second South African to break through the 10-second barrier.
“When someone does well then you want to match that as an athlete, and when Akani dipped below 10 seconds I told myself I am also able to do it,” Bruintjies said.
“I also believe in my potential because I believe you feed off someone else’s energy, so the better he does, the better I will do.”
Fellow South African sprinter Wayde van Niekerk supplied the final motivation when he beat Olympic gold medallist Kirani James of Grenada in a new national record time of 43.96 seconds on Saturday.
“The night before I broke the record I watched the Paris Diamond League meeting where Wayde van Niekerk became the first African to break through 44 seconds in the 400m,” Bruintjies said.
“I then thought ‘it is great what he is doing and he is just a normal guy because I know him’ then I could do it in my own event,” he said.
“I decided that I would do it and I went into the race determined to do well because I told everybody I would break the record.”
The 21-year-old Paarl native has been threatening to break through after posting a wind-assisted 10.06 seconds at the SA Student Championship in Durban in 2013.
Although he missed out on a podium finish in last year’s record-breaking men’s 100m final in Pretoria he did post a speedy 10.17s in one of the semi-finals.
Bruintjies kick-started one of South African sprinting’s greatest arm-wrestles with Simbine at a meeting in Prague a month ago.
There Bruintjies blitzed to the fastest 100m time by a South African abroad and at sea-level when he clocked 10.06s.
Long may the tussle continue as the dynamic duo inspire future tracks stars and push South African sprinting to the next level.