Cape Town — Akani Simbine did what he had to do in the semi-finals, and now he can get ready for revenge when he faces Ferdinand Omanyala in the 100m final at the African athletics championships in Mauritius on Thursday.
South African champion Simbine started his season later than usual so that he can peak at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon in late July.
But it would still have hurt Simbine to be beaten on home soil by Omanyala, the African record-holder, on home soil at the ASA Grand Prix in Germiston on April 13.
That night, the Kenyan star stormed to victory in an excellent time of 9.98 seconds, with Simbine second in 10.11.
On Wednesday at the Cote d’Or National Sports Complex in Port Louis, Simbine ran 10.14 in his morning heat, and revved up a bit more to win his semi-final in the afternoon in 10.09.
Omanyala — who has already run a 9.85 this year and has a personal best of 9.77 — cruised to a 10.07 victory in his semi-final to set the stage for an intriguing final on Thursday (2.10pm SA time), having stated earlier in the week that he was so determined to become the African champion that he declined a couple of Diamond League invitations to be in Mauritius.
Simbine will have compatriot Henricho Bruintjies pushing for a medal in the final as well after the latter posted 10.21 to finish second in his semi-final.
Horn will also push for the gold in the women’s 100m final after producing a season’s best time of 11.08 seconds, which ensured her passage to the world championships after finally beating the qualifying time of 11.15.
The 33-year-old sprinter had run 11.14 in Italy on May 28, but that didn’t count due to an illegal wind of +2.1m/s.
But Wednesday’s wind reading was +1.5m/s, so she can pack her bags for Eugene next month. Before that, though, she will be keen to go all the way in Thursday’s final, where her main competition will be Niger’s Seyni Aminatou, who was the fastest in the semi-finals in 11.05, and Gina Bass of The Gambia, who matched Horn’s 11.08.
The other SA 100m athlete, Phindile Kubheka, was unfortunate to miss out on the final after finishing third in her semi-final in 11.44.
After Ischke Senekal’s gold medal and Zonica Lindeque’s bronze in the women’s shot put earlier on Wednesday, there was also a double-medal haul in the men’s hammer throw in the afternoon session.
Alan Cumming produced an outstanding effort of 69.13m in his final round to snatch the gold from his SA teammate Tshepang Makhethe, who had taken the lead with a 68.75m effort in his fifth round.
Makhethe claimed the silver medal, with Egypt’s Alaaeldin Elashry taking the bronze in 68.24m. A third South African, Renaldo Frechou, finished sixth in 64.24m.
Apart from Simbine and Horn, further medal prospects for Team SA on Thursday will be defending champion Antonio Alkana in the men’s 110m hurdles final (3.15pm), Victor Hogan in the men’s discus final, and Marione Fourie in the women’s 100m hurdles final (1.10pm).
Former 800m Olympic champion Caster Semenya will also be in action in the 5 000m, where she will be chasing a world championship qualifying time at 15:10.00 (2.55pm).