Tue | Jul 23, 2024

South African sprinter indebted to Lewis for improvement

Published:Sunday | June 16, 2024 | 12:11 AMRaymond Graham - Gleaner Writer
Shaun Maswanganyi
Shaun Maswanganyi

University of Houston coach Carl Lewis and South African sprinter Shaun Maswanganyi, at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last year.
University of Houston coach Carl Lewis and South African sprinter Shaun Maswanganyi, at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary last year.
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SOUTH AFRICA’S Shaun Maswanganyi is heaping praises on American, Carl Lewis, for his massive improvement over the 100 and 200 metres in the past three years.

The 23 year-old Maswanganyi, a semi-finalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in both the 100 and 200 metres and who just completed his final year at the University of Houston where has been coached by Lewis, has hailed the track and field great as someone special.

“To have Carl Lewis as a coach is really special. I speak about it all the time, he’s more than just a coach to me. He is more than a mentor, he’s a father figure in many aspects and he reminds me of my high-school coach,” said Maswanganyi in a recent interview with Sport Boom, a part of Zealium Media, a digital media and marketing business.

The former African Under-20 100 metres champion and World University Games silver medallist was seventh in the 100 metres in 10.05 seconds, and sixth in the 200 metres in 20.25 at the recent NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon.

Guided by Lewis, the South African had a major achievement in February at an indoor meet in Texas in the United States, recording 20.41 seconds for a South African record.

“I think the close relationship with Lewis has helped me in breaking the 200m indoor national record. He is there for me all the time and I am grateful to have a coach like him,” he said.

Lewis, who competed from 1979 to 1996, is a nine-time Olympic Games gold medallist and is widely seen as one of the greatest athletes ever.

Now the second-fastest male athlete in his country over the 100 metres, with a best of 9.91 seconds, just behind Akani Simbine with 9.84, Maswanganyi is looking forward to great things at the Paris Olympic Games.

“I am looking forward to great things in Paris as, at last year’s World Championships, I suffered an injury and was unable to perform the way I wanted. But, with the careful guidance of Lewis, I am very optimistic that I can do something special in Paris.”