By Colleta Dewa
Johannesburg – South Africa’s newest sprint star, Phatutshedzo Shaun Maswanganyi, this week secured Olympic qualification in the 100m and 200m events.
Hailing from Soweto, the 20-year-old currently resides in Texas in the United States where he is a freshman at the University of Houston.
He punched his ticket to the Tokyo Games at the US National Collegiate Athletic Association West Preliminary Round at College Station at the weekend. Maswanganyi won the 200m with a personal best of 20.19 seconds, making him the eighth fastest South African over the distance ever.
In the first round of the 100m, he beat Akani Simbine’s record time of 9.89s, but his time of 9.87 was rendered “unofficial” due to strong wind assistance of +2.8m/s. His final time was changed to 10.05 seconds.
However, he then ran 10.04s in the final to secure Olympic qualification.
“The road to the Olympic Games is no longer a dream but a reality for me. 100m & 200m Qualifier,” he tweeted after the race.
Maswanganyi first caught the eye of many with his record-breaking exploits for Houston’s Cougars Athletics side, notching up extraordinary sub-10s and sub-20s times in the 100m and 200m at the American Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Now with further college events coming up, and perhaps an international season, Maswanganyi could still make it into South Africa’s 4x100m Olympic relay squad.
“The most important process for me was trusting my coaches and my teammates. My teammates were the ones who pushed me through. With the help of my teammates, the dynamics we have and pretty much how everyone worked together with the training staff, everything just kind of fell into place as the months progressed,” Maswanganyi said.
His performances played a big part in the Cougar men’s team winning the overall title at the track and field championships, while the women’s squad also took the honours in their division.
“They call us speed city for a reason. I owe most of my success to my coaches and my teammates because they pushed me a lot. They were there for me. At some meets, I didn’t perform the way I wanted to, but they were always there to motivate me.”
Maswanganyi attended high school at St Alban’s College in Tshwane.
In 2019 he won 200m gold and 100m silver at the African U-20 Championships in Abidjan, and last year he broke the SA junior 100m record, clocking 10.06 seconds in Tshwane.