TRACK & FIELD
Back on the
It ’ s great to be back , but now the hard work really starts … That ’ s what South African women ’ s 100m record holder , Carina Horn , says about finishing her two-year doping suspension from all competition in September . Her suspension was originally four years , but she succeeded in getting it reduced after proving it was not deliberate cheating , and having ‘ done her time ,’ she is raring to get going again . – BY WILHELM DE SWARDT & SEAN FALCONER
It ’ s been a torrid two years for ace sprinter Carina Horn . Her last race was at the Gala Dei Castelli meeting in Switzerland , on 1 September 2019 , where she finished fourth . Just under two weeks later her world fell apart when news broke that she had tested positive for the prohibited substances Ibutamoren and Ligandrol , both of which stimulate muscle growth , and she was provisionally banned from all competition pending the outcome of a hearing .
Despite proclaiming her innocence – Carina maintained that the supplements she used must have been contaminated – she was given a four-year suspension by the World Athletics ’ Athletics Integrity Unit ( AIU ). However , she vowed to prove she had not deliberately doped , and thus asked a scientist to assist her quest for the truth , and the AIU subsequently accepted his findings that her supplements were in fact contaminated .
That enabled the Pretoria-based sprinter to plea bargain with the World Athletics Medical Tribunal , which finally decided to suspend her for two years instead of four , backdating it to the day she tested positive . “ I told them I was prepared to accept a two-year suspension , as I know it is my responsibility to make sure that the supplements I use are not contaminated . That ’ s why my advice now to any young athlete is that if you are in doubt , rather don ’ t use anything , because it is not worth it .”
Upward Trajectory Halted
The suspension came at a critical juncture of Carina ’ s athletic career . In July 2015 , she had equalled Evette de Klerk ’ s long-standing SA Record of 11:06 seconds , which dated back to April 1990 . Building on that , she won her first continental medals at the 2016 African Champs – silver in the 100m and team gold in the 4x100m relay – then went on to make the semi-final round at the Rio Olympics later that year .
Now she is determined to get back to winning ways on the track
Carina had developed into SA ’ s leading sprinter by 2019
Carina again made it to the semi-final round at the 2017 World Champs , but it was in 2018 that she really caught the eye . She began the year by twice breaking the SA Record for 60m indoors in the space of three days in French meets , clocking 7.10 and 7.09 to finally break Wendy Hartman ’ s 20-year-old mark of 7.15 , then made the semi-final round of the World Indoor Champs . In March , she finally claimed the SA Record , clocking 11:03 at the SA Champs , at altitude in Pretoria , then became the first South African woman to dip under 11 seconds when she clocked 10.98 at the Diamond League meeting in Doha , Qatar in May .
Her suspension thus put the brakes on career , and now that Carina has been off the track for two years , she says it feels like she is starting from the beginning again . “ I feel a bit like a ‘ newborn baby ’ who has got to relearn how to train on the track .” On the other hand , she says she can feel the benefit of giving her body an extended rest . “ There are never any half measures when I train , it ’ s about always giving 100 %. Of course , that meant my body took some strain in the past , but I have now had time to recover , as I only trained in the gym and in my garden for two years .”
Carina admits that she often felt down during her suspension , and yet is grateful in a way ... “ From an emotional perspective , it was really tough . There were many evenings that I could not stop myself from crying , as it felt as if I was fighting a losing battle , but it also taught me to be more patient in life . Before , I think I was too impatient with the process . And now that I am back on the track , I am glad that I did not just give up .
Taking It One Step at a Time
Obviously not wanting to get ahead of herself , Carina ( now 32 ) says she does not want to speculate when she may start racing again . “ At the moment , I feel quite sluggish , so I will only decide by the end of December , or perhaps January , when I will start racing again . I will definitely not do so if I don ’ t feel I am at the top of my game , because from now on , every time I line up to compete , I want to make it count .”
“ I ’ m sad that I missed the Olympics as well as the World Championships , but that is something I can ’ t change now . Instead , I can just focus on trying to get back to where I was before , and for now , I must focus on being ready for the next Olympics . It ’ s not going to be easy , but I am a stubborn person , and I know that if I set my mind on something , I will achieve it ... Because I don ’ t walk away from something that I think is unfinished .”
This articles was supplied by The Department of Sport ( TuksSport ) at the University of Pretoria . Tuks is home to some of the best sporting opportunities in the world , with more than 30 sport clubs . To find out more , go to www . up . ac . za / tukssport .
Images : Roger Sedres / Image SA & Reg Caldecott
50 ISSUE 145 SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2021 | www . modernathlete . co . za