In 2016 South African sprinting emerged as an area of massive pride for South Africa as the shorter distances started featuring South Africans on a regular basis. Of course it was also the year that Usain Bolt completed the unprecedented triple triple at the Rio Olympics. With all the excitement around the flagship events of the Olympic Games, someone had to ride this wave and help unearth the future of SA Sprinting. I could think of nobody better than PUMA, a brand consistently associated with the quickest and fastest in the world of running.
And so PUMA, in association with the brilliant Stillwater Sports, introduced the concept of the School of Speed. The School of Speed has been launched to develop athletics talent in South Africa by unearthing the fastest young speedsters. The School of Speed is headed by the World’s Fastest Man Usain Bolt, who has appointed reigning SA 100m champion Henricho Bruintjies as his Vice Principal in South Africa.
The first event takes place today in Pretoria at the LC de Villiers Stadium in Pretoria when up-and-coming Faster Stars in U16, U18 and U20 categories compete across 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m as well as relays. The big prize, for the top 5 athletes per meet as determined by the Athletics South Africa points system, is a PUMA product contract each to the value of R10 000. You can also watch this event on a livestream over at http://schoolofspeed.com/ Thats taking things up a level already!
Additional incentives include bragging rights for being a part of the Fastest event in South Africa and PUMA Tees for the finalists in each category, while the fastest boy and girl in each age group will receive a pair of PUMA running shoes and qualify for a 45% discount on PUMA product to assist with their performance goals.
The innovative series then moves to Cape Town (Green Point Stadium, 18 January 2017), Roodepoort (Ruimsig Stadium, 1 February 2017) and Durban (Kings Park Athletics Stadium, 18 February 2017) and Paarl (Dal Josafat Stadium, 28 February 2017). The top young speedsters will become part of PUMA’s elite running ambassador programme alongside greats such as Henricho Bruintjies, Jerry Motsau, Rantso Mokopane and the Phalula sisters. They will draw advice and encouragement from these athletes over the course of the sponsorship and will get free entry to PUMA running events including the FNB Joburg 10k, FNB Cape Town 12k and the FNB Durban event.
The School of Speed will start at around 2pm, with the finals starting at 6.30pm and finishing by 9.30pm. The meets are endorsed by athletics federations, so times count as official qualification for provincial and national championships.