Drama in Pretoria as strong wind denies Akani Simbine a new SA 100m record
CAPE TOWN – Akani Simbine almost rewrote the record books on Thursday in the 100m with a sensational time of 9.82 seconds at the national championships in Pretoria – but it won’t count as a new South African mark.
With ideal warm conditions at the Tuks Athletics Stadium, Simbine already showed his intentions in the heats in the morning, clocking 10.11.
He pulled out all the stops in the semi-final, storming to the 9.82 that would also have been the world’s fastest time in 2021, beating American Ronnie Baker’s 9.94, which was set in Austin on March 27.
But it was not to be for the 27-year-old, as the strong wind measuring +2.8m/s is above the legal limit of +2.0m/s, which means that the 9.82 can’t be recognised as a new national record.
This is the second time this season that Simbine has run a sub-10 second time, after posting a 9.99 on the same Tuks Stadium track in late March. That mark is still regarded as his quickest this year, as he was running into a strong wind of -3.0m/s.
Despite the drama about the wind on Thursday, it is clear that Simbine is in superb shape for the Tokyo Olympics.
Having competed in a few local meets before the national championships, his coach Werner Prinsloo said that his athlete was working hard on his finish, and Simbine himself said that he took part in a couple of 200m races to assist his endurance for the 100m.
That seems to have paid off, and he will hope for less wind for the 100m final, which takes place at 5pm on Friday.
In one of the other semi-finals, Gift Leotlela was also denied a sub-10 second time due to the wind. He won his race in 9.94, but the wind registered at +3.6m/s.
The other main contender, Thando Dlodlo, was victorious in his semi-final in 10.21, and the time will count as the wind was at +1.5m/s.
So, the final is shaping up to be a thrilling race…