Johannesburg - South African sprinting sensation Akani Simbine views the Glasgow Commonwealth Games that get under way on Wednesday as the perfect platform to fulfil his dream of breaching the 10-second barrier in the 100m dash.
“I feel I will run nine seconds before the end of the year,” said Simbine, who is set to compete in the 100m and the 200m.
“I am not exactly sure when it will happen though. It would be awesome if it happened on a huge stage like the Commonwealth,” he said in an interview with Sapa ahead of the Games.
He became the second-fastest South African man at the SA Senior Athletics Championship in April in Pretoria where he posted a time of 10.02 seconds, four split seconds off the national record mark of 9.98 seconds set by Simon Magakwe.
The two national benchmarks allowed both athletes to qualify for the world showpiece starting on Wednesday.
Little noise was made about Simbine's exploits as they were overshadowed by Magakwe, who is eight years his senior.
The Games will be the first time the 20-year-old Simbine will represent the country at such a grand stage.
“It's always an honour for me to compete for my country,” he said.
“I am nervous and excited at the same time. It will be an emotional occasion for me when we go out at the opening ceremony with the South Africa flag.”
Since clocking 10.02 seconds, Simbine has managed to run 10.18, 10.24, and 10.29 in various competitions.
“I have just kept on training and putting in the work at the track and gym,” said Simbine.
“I just had to sort out a few technical mistakes here and there then I should peak at the right time.”
Simbine has been based in Europe over the last two months where he has participated at meets in Italy, France, Hungary, Switzerland, Slovenia, and the Netherlands.
Simbine said during that time he had been exposed to the life of a top international athlete.
“Athletics this side is bigger than back in South Africa,” he said.
“There are races all over Europe ranging from different levels in competition.
“The level of competition is very high which makes it more interesting.
“Another thing that makes a difference is the altitude. In South Africa we are at a higher level so it is easier to run fast times and here [in Europe] you're mainly at sea level which makes it a bit tougher.”
The South African quartet of Simbine, Magakwe, Henrico Bruintjies and Ncincilili Titi are set to compete in the 4x100m relay, where they will face stiff competition that include Jamaica, spearheaded by Usain Bolt.
“I hope we can medal. We just have to work on a few technical aspects but I think as a team we are good enough.”