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SA's Road to Rio: Carina Horn

Five years ago, Carina Horn was just another sprinter -- today she is the joint national women's record holder over 100 metres and has realised her Olympic dream.

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Photo: REG CALDECOTT

Persistence has paid off for the 27-year-old UP/Tuks athlete, who this year equalled the 25-year-old South African 100 metre record set by Evette de Klerk and is now striving to become the first SA woman to break 11 seconds in the 100m.


De Klerk's record breaking-performance was on 20 April 1990 in Germiston. Since then only Geraldine Pillay has come close to improving on it when she ran an 11.07 in 2005 in Durban (Source - SASCOC).


Her times are on the up and she is constantly flirting with that magical 11 second mark, having run a personal-best of 11.06 in Madrid last year. Carina is clearly the new leader of a South African women's sprinting revolution.


In fact, Horn has been a picture of consistency, posting four consecutive Olympic standard times in four starts and there is an air of excitement around with the belief that she can still go faster ahead of the Rio Olympic Games in August.


Trevor Cramer sat down with Horn...


She will put that to the test in two Diamond League meetings ahead of the greatest sporting spectacle on earth -- in Monaco on 15 July and in London on 23 and 24 July.


But first, there is an extended European training stint ahead of her under her Austrian coach and mentor Rainer Schopf, who has played a key role in her rejuvenation as an athlete and quenched her thirst for success.


She was initially coached at UP/Tuks by Juan Strydom, who Carina says always believed she would go on and equal the SA record and played an integral part in liaising with Schopf to draw up Carina's seasonal strategy and planning. 


Carina admits her career was stagnating five years ago and she appeared to be on a frustrating road to nowhere before she eventually crossed the rubicon when she met Schopf, a specialist sprint trainer based in Linz, Austria.


When she left South Africa to train under the guidance of Schopf in Linz, her best time in the 100m was a very ordinary 11.59s, but she has subsequently improved that by 0.53 seconds. 


Carina says the catalyst for her vast improvement was Schopf teaching her to hone in and focus on the right technical aspects of racing 100 metres. He believes strongly in a simple strategy that "small changes could lead to big time gains," says Horn. And it's worked for her.


Many athletes would have hung up their spikes when placed in Horn's predicament five years back, but a quote from her idol Arnold Schwatzenegger fuelled her fire and sparked that inner determination to persevere.


"I am motivated by Schwartzenegger's famous quote 'The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else'. I am determined to stand out and be the best, or it wouldn't be worthwhile. I don't believe in mediocrity."


But while setting lofty goals for herself in this Olympic year, she admits to also being a realist at times. 


"Sure, I want to qualify for the Olympic 100m final, but it's a big ask. I am very aware that with at least nine female athletes having clocked sub-11, I will have to run a time faster than my PB of 11.06s," says Horn.


Unlike many sprinters, Horn has chosen to focus solely on the 100m in the build-up to the Olympics and not run the 200m as well.


"I just really want to set myself realistic goals. I have so much more technical stuff to work on in the 100. I want to run that perfect 100, then I will start thinking about targeting the 200."

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Photo: REG CALDECOTT


GET TO KNOW CARINA HORN


What is your biggest accomplishment in your sport?

Definitely when I equalled the SA record in Madrid and when I raced at World Champs 2015 Beijing. But there's more to come.


What one or two things do you currently do in your training that are keys to your success?

I am not afraid to fail and try different things to see what will work and what won't.


What would be your ultimate achievement?

Easy, to run one of the fastest times in history.


How do you set your goals?

I set my goals by knowing what I want and making sure I work for it.


What is your biggest challenge, and what do you do to manage this challenge?

Biggest challenge would be to get the perfect race at the right time.


What is your diet like?

I don't have a diet. I can eat whatever I feel like, but still have to discipline myself.


What 1-2 things do you believe differentiates you from your contemporaries who have tailed off in their athletic participation and abilities?

My will to win, being a go getter never giving up. I believe in myself and my Mom who never made me gave up.


What led to your breakthrough?

Just my coach who kept on pushing me to run consistently.


What was the best advice you were ever given?

I have to believe in what I am capable of and to trust the process and that God will not put something on my road I can't handle, so never give up on my goals. 


Do you have a saying or motto that you live your life by?

I like the rules of Arnold Schwartzenegger. Trust yourself, work your ass off, ignore the naysayers, give something back and never be afraid to fail.


Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From myself, my family, my coach, legends like Arnold Schwarzeneggar and a few more. 


What Do You Normally Eat For Breakfast?

Normally eat egg and toast with cereal, maybe a Bar one or milo and coffee.


My Last Meal Would Be

Mmmm...My last meal would be braaivleis and something sweet afterwards.


How Do You Celebrate Christmas Day?

Christmas day will always be with my family. Church in the morning and a big lunch and relaxing.


What Would You Buy With Your Last R100

Food.



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