CAPE TOWN – Akani Simbine actually didn’t have the best of starts in the 100m final at the Commonwealth Games.
The South African star just didn’t get out of the blocks quickly, and was behind Yohan Blake – despite much being made about the Jamaican “stumbling” at the start.
But at about the four-second mark, Simbine decided to put his foot down.
In a Facebook Live broadcast on the page of his personal sponsor Liquid Telecom SA on Wednesday – with South African 2001 world 4x100m relay champion Mathew Quinn as the interviewer and accompanied by his coach Werner Prinsloo – Simbine takes up the decisive moment at the Gold Coast Games.
“I just saw Blake on my side, and I was like ‘Okay, I’m actually passing this guy, and I’m opening up a gap on this guy’. So, I said to myself I’m gonna move, and if he doesn’t move, that’s his own things.
“But I’m going for the line and I’m going for the win,” said the Tuks sprinter, who raised his arms in triumph after claiming gold in 10.03.
In fact, Simbine was behind five athletes, including Blake, with just fellow SA athlete Henricho Bruintjies trailing him.
But it was the local duo who finished in the top two, with Bruintjies producing a 10.17 for the silver medal and Blake dipping at the line for bronze in 10.19.
Simbine said that Aussie media talk of Blake’s poor start being the reason for him winning his first major gold medal did not bother him.
“I only started seeing that the morning of the (relay, where SA won silver) final. It didn’t annoy me much because Blake is Blake. He deserved the respect we gave him, and for me, to beat him and run against him is a great opportunity,” he said.
“It’s just that people need to start understanding that everybody wants to be number one, and I’ve been working to be that, and will continue to do so.”
He was congratulated privately and publicly by Usain Bolt as well, although he didn’t have much contact with the retired superstar sprinter due to Bolt’s busy schedule as a Games ambassador.
Simbine said he enjoys hip-hop music to get him going, and listened to DJ Khaled’s hit ‘I’m the one’ before he went into the call-room before the 100m final.
He has thoroughly enjoyed the adulation from South African fans since returning from Australia, but with coach Prinsloo stating that his next venture would be the Diamond League starting at the end of May, Simbine is determined to go even faster.
“I don’t think before the gun goes off! Just to react to the gun, and make sure that I’m first after 30 metres, because I know if I am, no one can catch me for the rest of the race,” the 24-year-old Simbine said.
“In the final, I didn’t run for a time, I ran for a win. It’s still early in the season and it’s possible for me to be faster. I’m running differently this year because I am trying to pace myself for the whole season because I want to have energy for the rest of the season.
“I believe I’m way faster than 9.89 – I’m working hard so that I can actually put that down and back up my own words.
“Since I got back, it’s been amazing. People have been shouting our names and just supporting us, and it touches my heart to see it, wanting you to win. I just want to keep making South Africa proud.”