In early 2016, Kim Collins pronounced that his plans for this season included becoming the first 40-year-old man to break 10 seconds over the 100-metre dash during the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil later this summer.
On Sunday, in Bottrop, Germany, Collins achieved his target a full two months early.
There, the 2003 100-metre world champion, who turned 40 in April, won in 9.93 seconds to set a new personal best.
It was also a new St. Kitts national record, breaking his own record of 9.96, set two years ago.
Collins was also the only man in the race to break the 10-second barrier.
Twenty-seven-year Joe Morris of the United States was second in 10.15 seconds while Great Britain’s 22-year-old golden boy Adam Gemili, was a place further back in 10.19.
This latest milestone continues a trend that the world has been witnessing since 2013, when Collins ran 9.97 in Lausanne in 2013, 10 years since he last managed to run that fast back in 2003.
That year he sped to a 9.99 clocking in Zurich.
Collins is expected to lead his National St.Kitts-Nevis Team to the Rio Olympics and observers have already pegged the team among favourites to reach the Olympic Finals with Collins. Collins recent performance also pegs him a favourite to reach the finals and become the oldest male sprinter in an Olympic sprint final.
Ironically, Collins’ path to a return to sub-10-second times began in 2008, the year he retired from track and field at the age of 32.
That was the year his wife, Paula, a certified IAAF coach, took over from Glen Mills, who coached Collins to his world title and a bronze medal in Helsinki two years later.
The former fitness model immediately set about trying to make her husband a better sprinter.
“When I started to coach Kim, my issue was with the final part of his race,” she told Sportsmax.tv, revealing that Kim needed to get stronger if he was to achieve his goal of becoming faster.
Over the ensuing years, she made him stronger, improved his flexibility, and ensured that he was efficient with his technique.
“I believe in form and execution. Some coaches will say that with older athletes it’s hard to change old habits but there is always room for improvement,” she said.
His leg strength, she said, is now a lot better than it used to be.
The man, who never did a squat, can now squat 345 pounds up to a maximum of 365.
She revealed that when they just started out she had to teach him how to squat. She recalls using a broomstick to teach him proper technique.
Paula also worked on Kim’s flexibility, an essential requirement for any athlete, especially ones who are ‘not so young’.
“Kim was very tight,” she recalled with a laugh.
“Now his flexibility has improved a lot.”
The improved flexibility has helped Kim hold his form right through the tape and she impresses on him before each race, the importance of holding his form all the way.
She also keeps close tabs on his diet.
She reveals that no matter where he is in the world, even if she is not with him, he has to stick to a proper eating plan.
“He has to tell me what he eats because nutrition is so very important.
“I got him to start eating brown rice, and he doesn’t like to drink water so I switched him to coconut water because hydration is so very important.”
Everything combined, including improved powers of recovery, have seen Collins incrementally improve his speed.
His season best in 2013, was 9.97.
In 2014, 9.96. His best in 2015 was 9.98.
That year Paula revealed, Collins actually ran 9.94 in his home country but technical issues prevented the time from being ratified.
The time in Bottrop was validation that the 9.94 was true.
“I knew it was a legitimate time because the gradual improvement shows that the programme is working,” she said.
“We work hard and it’s paying off.”