‘Cold’ Akani Simbine warming up to take on African 100m king Ferdinand Omanyala

Akani Simbine running the Final Men Senior 100m during the 2021 ASA Senior Track and Field Champs at Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on the 16 April 2021 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Akani Simbine running the Final Men Senior 100m during the 2021 ASA Senior Track and Field Champs at Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on the 16 April 2021 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Apr 8, 2022


Cape Town - On Wednesday night in Potchefstroom, you could see, almost immediately, that Akani Simbine was short of a gallop.

The national 100m record-holder was competing in the 200m at the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix 3 meeting at the NWU McArthur Stadium, an event he seldom runs these days, and it was the start of his 2022 season.

It’s all about peaking at the right time this year, with the lucrative Diamond League races during the European summer and then the world championships in July and Commonwealth Games after that.

So, there wasn’t the usual explosive start from the 28-year-old out of the blocks in Potch, and even when he was entering the bend, it was clear that he was trailing the favourite, Luxolo Adams.

Simbine just couldn’t get that spark back in the final 100 metres either as Adams stormed to victory in an excellent time of 20.28 seconds – just shy of the world championships qualifying mark of 20.24.

The reigning 100m junior world champion, Letsile Tebogo of Botswana, motored into second position in a time of 20.45, while SA’s 200m world junior bronze medallist Sinesipho Dambile finished third in 20.68.

Simbine had to be satisfied with a 21.08 time and seventh spot, but he was just glad to be back on the track.

“Great to be back running, great to be back racing. For me, it’s always exciting to race, no matter what the result. I’m happy to be back racing – it’s just being patient with the programme now, being patient with Coach (Werner Prinsloo), trusting where we’re going and what we planned,” Simbine told SuperSport in a track-side TV interview afterwards.

“Cold, body’s tired! But I am happy that I finished off the race healthy – that was the main goal of today. Start of the reason with the race, but I just wanted to make sure I finished healthy and build on that, and get down to business.”

But Simbine is working hard in training to prepare for the South African championships, which will take place at the Green Point Athletics Stadium in Cape Town from April 21-23.

He will have a 100m race at the ASA Grand Prix 4 meeting at Germiston Stadium in Johannesburg this Wednesday, where he will go head-to-head with African 100m record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya, who was victorious in Potchefstroom in a solid time of 10.11 seconds.

Omanyala’s continental mark of 9.77 won’t be under threat at this stage of the season, but the two African stars could be competing for global medals later in the year.

“It’s a championship year. It’s for us to go out there and be ready for the championships. We have African champs coming up in June, we have world champs in July and Commonwealth Games in August, and those are three big competitions for me. That’s where we want to be racing at our best, and that’s my goal for the year,” Simbine said.

“Next week I will be running in the Grand Prix against Omanyala – that’s the one that everybody is excited about.

“Then get ready for nationals in Cape Town. Then I will disappear for a bit, and get ready for the African Champs and the rest of the year.”