We catch up with one of the fastest women in Africa, 100m & 200m sprinter Tamzin Thomas. Still only 20, she’s already made her mark on the continent with gold in the 100m at the 2015 African Junior Champs. Since then she has had to manage being a full time student (at school and university) whilst still being a professional athlete. We find out just how she does it and her point of view of running really, really, fast.
RM: If you’re not fast, do you think that you can get significantly faster or is it more of a genes thing? How important are fast twitch fibers and training?
TT: I believe that God has blessed every one with a unique talent and if you work hard and stay motivated you can achieve anything you believe in. You are capable of anything you set your mind to. If you really have passion for what you do you will enjoy what you love. Training keeps me fit and it gives me all the body goals that others dream of, it’s very important to me. What I learn on the track, I can apply in a race. If you train hard it will reflect in your performance on the track. My fast twitch muscles allow me to run fast in 100 and 200 meter race.
RM: How big of a role does weight/gym training play in sprinting? Could you break it up into a percentage?
TT: Gym training is very important to me it is my base training that gives me explosiveness and the power to move quick out of the starting blocks. Gym training also increases my strength which prevents me from getting injuries. It also increases your muscle strength which allows your body to do certain movements.
TT: 50% Gym and 50% track. You have to balance both out because what do you in the gym needs to reflect on the track. Closer to in-season, gym becomes less and your track sessions become more. It all depends on which phase of the season you’re in.
RM: What are you thinking whilst racing? (e.g. If you’re behind do you try and do something more or stay running your race? Or is your mind blank; you just block out everything?)
TT: While running my mind goes blank, but at times I can think of staying relaxed, and when I see I can go further I motivate myself to push more. My mind just goes blank for few seconds.
RM: You’re in a discipline where you literally have zero room for error; how do you handle nerves?
TT: I am always nervous but if I’m in a crowd of people that discuss a different topic other than athletics I do feel relaxed.
RM: And how do you mentally prepare for race day?
TT: I do things normally during the day. I think of previous races. That motivates me and I get the confidence of previous races. My coach Morne Nagel, always puts me in a very good space and he always tells me just to enjoy the race.
RM: When it comes to dieting? Is it mellow or super strict.
TT: My diet is very mellow I don’t have a diet plan or anything. I basically eat anything I want because I don’t gain much weight I always lose a lot of weight. I always try to eat a lot and to eat certain foods that will allow me to gain weight. I really need to focus on my diet and my diet will go with my training because you need to refuel the body after training. Eating proper food will also allow my body to recover quickly so that you can train for the next day. Your muscles grow when you eat more.
RM: What are your goals for next season/year?
TT: I would like to get stronger. Time wise, I would like to drop below 23 seconds in the 200m and I believe that God has a plan for me. Dropping in my 200m time will improve my 100m times and my goal for the 100 is to run 11:35 seconds. I believe in challenging myself, I would like to qualify for the world championship in Doha for the 200 m.
RM: Women in sport? Do you think that they’re getting the right opportunities in SA?
TT: Women in sport in South Africa we get opportunities but you really have to get a name for yourself to get these opportunities.