Akani Simbine in action during the Weltklasse IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting in Switzerland. Photo: Ennio Leanza/EPA

JOHANNESBURG – The fastest man in Africa, Akani Simbine will start his 2018 season on March 8 at the second of three Athletix Grand Prix Meetings at the Bestmed Tuks Stadium in Pretoria.

Simbine firmly secured the title of ‘fastest man in Africa’ in 2016 when he clocked 9.89 seconds in the 100m in Hungary.  Fast times, however, are no longer his only driving force.  

Simbine wants titles, global titles and 2018 is the year in which the 24-year-old is looking to start his collection. His first target will be the gold medal in the 100m at Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.  

The journey to chasing those titles in 2018 starts in South Africa at the Athletix Grand Prix Series at the second Meeting of the Series in Pretoria.  He has run three of his fastest 100m times and his best 200m time at the Tuks Track at the University of Pretoria.

“2017 was a disappointing year for me. I had much bigger expectations than the fifth place finish at the World Championships. I wanted a medal, but was hampered by an ongoing hip injury,” says Simbine. “I intend to change all that in 2018 and what better place than to start at the Athletix Grand Prix Meet on my home track at Tukkies?”

Tukkies has certainly seen some of the best runs by the 24-year-old. It was there that he became the first South African to do the sub-10, sub-20 double in the 100m and 200m respectively, when he clocked 9.93 for the 100m and two hours later flew to a lifetime best of 19.95 in the 200m in March 2017. It was there that he ran 9.92, 9.95 and 9.98 in the 100m – his second, third and tenth fastest times, respectively.

“I train here. I like this track. It is fast and you are always guaranteed fast times,” says Simbine. Since opening with a sub-10 in 2016, there is now an expectation on Simbine to dip under the mark every time he lines up in the glamour event of Athletics.  “This is my target every time I go into the blocks. It is all about the execution. If I execute correctly, then a sub-10 is coming.”

With the Commonwealth Games taking place in April and the 100m final being run on April 9, the Athletix Grand Prix Meet in Tshwane on March 8 is the perfect race for Simbine to make a statement to his opposition who will be lining up against him in Australia.

“If I want to win titles I need to dominate, and if I want to dominate then I need to do that from the very first race. Doing that in front of my home crowd on a track that I know and love is the perfect place to start.” 

African News Agency (ANA)

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