#TuksAthletics: Dedication led to Horn becoming SA's top female sprinter

Posted on August 12, 2016

Carina Horn was for a long time considered an underdog in South African athletics, but with hard work and determination she has become South Africa's top female sprinter and is currently representing South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio.

The Cambridge Dictionary's definition of the word 'dedication', namely 'the willingness to give a lot of time and energy to something because it is important', accurately summarises Horn's attitude.

In 2009, then 19-year-old Horn's performance of 11,81 s in the 100 metre final at the South African Championships was hardly noticed. There were, in fact, cynics who predicted that she did not have what it takes to become a top sprinter.

The Tuks/hpc athlete certainly proved them wrong. Nine years later Horn is the co-holder of the South African 100 metre record (11,06 s) and there are predictions that she might become the first local female sprinter to dip under 11 seconds. It might even happen over the weekend when Horn competes in the 100 metres in Rio. The heats will take place on Friday and the final on Saturday. Horn is currently ranked as the 13th best sprinter in the IAAF Diamond League.

Horn is hesitant to make any bold predictions. 'I am confident that I will eventually run a fast time, but I am not sure when it is going to happen. That is very frustrating. I thought it would be at the London Diamond League Meeting but unfortunately I lost focus between 30 and 60 metres and that cost me. In a way I am glad that I did not run a best time in London because that might have made me overly confident at the Games. I have never been so motivated to succeed'.

When asked how it would feel should she run a time faster than 11 seconds in the semi-final, Horn replied: 'If it happens, I will have to keep my emotions in check. I am certainly not competing at the Games to run fast times in the semi-final. My goal is to compete in the final. That is what I have worked for. There will be ample time afterwards to celebrate a fast time'.

Despite her varied athletic career, including playing provincial hockey for seven years and being a cricketer who was able to bowl at speeds of up to 125 kilometres per hour, Horn always had one constant goal and that was to represent South Africa at the Olympic Games.

'To me, being an Olympian is to live my ultimate dream. I was so serious about representing South Africa at the Olympic Games and the World Championships that I stuck all sorts of motivational images and goals up against my bedroom wall to remind me why I was putting in the long hours every day and making so many sacrifices. For some time, the number on the back of my bank card – 1129 – served as extra motivation. That was the time I needed to run if I wanted to qualify for the 2012 Games in London'.

According to Horn her Austrian coach, Rainer Schopf, is the architect of her success. 'Rainer approached me when I was, at best, merely an average athlete. I guess he saw something in me of which I was not aware. What excited me was that he shared in my dream to race at the Olympics right from the start. When Rainer was young he was a talented decathlete but unfortunately his career was curtailed by injuries. However, he remained passionate about athletics. Many of the things that helped me to qualify for the Games are training techniques he had worked out to improve his own athletics performances'.


Photo credit: Reg Caldecott


- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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