Sprinter keeps eye on the prize for nationals

Tyler Linnen, centre, has qualified for the WP team.

Despite having a bad day at the office at the Western Province senior championships last month, Parow’s Tyler Linnen’s consistent track and field season was enough to see him make the Western Province side that will take part in the Athletics South Africa (ASA) senior championships, in Potchefstroom, later this month.

The 21-year-old former Parow High School pupil finished the 100m men’s final in seventh place with a time of 10.78 seconds after winning his opening heat and coming third in his semi-final.

He was also part of the gold medal-winning relay team that stopped the clock at 41.93 seconds at the championships held at Parow athletics track.

That team included 100m sprinter and 110m hurdles WP champion Antonio Alkana; 200m WP junior and senior champion Ethan Noble; and bronze medallist in the 200m and 400m sprint events, Dyllon Scheepers.

Linnen, a member of Bellville Athletics Club, will now look to better his performances at the upcoming ASA senior championships. However, sprinters will have their work cut out for them going up against Pretoria-based speedster Akani Simbine, who made the finals of the 100m sprints at last year’s Rio Olympics.

“My expectations for the ASA senior champs is to make the finals of the men’s 100m sprints and to run a personal best time. Despite not doing well at the WP senior champs I can bounce back and perform to the best of my ability,” he said.

Linnen started his track and field season in January, where he won his men’s 100 sprints, in a time of 10.59 seconds in the WP league 1 meet, at the Parow athletics track.

He then followed that up with a third-place finish in the men’s 100m sprints, in a time of 10.68 seconds, at the WP league 3 meet, in February, at the same venue.

A week before the WP senior champs, he came second in the men’s 100m sprints, at the top 10 inter-club meet, in a time of 10.59 seconds, also at the Parow athletics track.

Linnen also came fifth in the men’s 100m sprints at the ASA speed series, in Germiston, in Johannesburg, last month.

“I am happy with the way my season is going because I have been consistent with regards to times. I am in good shape and just hoping for the best for the rest of the season,” he said.

Last year was one of Linnen’s best track and field seasons in his short career after he made the WP junior and senior sides. The former Parow East Primary School pupil also won the award for best performance in the under-23 category.

“It was only my second year competing so this was a big deal for me. This is only the start of things to come as I believe I can achieve so much more,” he said.

Linnen said his career started late due to his school not having athletics until he was in Grade 11.

“When the school brought athletics back I was not interested until I saw the atmosphere and felt that I needed to compete the following year. In my debut season, I won four gold medals at the inter-schools that included the 100m, 200m, long jump and of course being part of the winning 4x100m relay team. I went on until the WP schools’ champions which was a great achievement,” said Linnen, who credits his coach Alroy Dixon for making him the athlete he is today.

“I have no words to describe how much effort he puts in to help me and my teammates. He motivates and guides us to do better all the time. He always goes the extra mile for all his athletes,” he said.