Akani Simbine to open international season at Rome Diamond League
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CAPE TOWN — We’ve had all the warm-ups and previews we can get, and soon it will be time for Akani Simbine to find out exactly where he stands in the global 100m league.
The South African 100m champion had a stellar local season, highlighted by that stunning 9.82 seconds time he produced in the semi-finals of the national championships in Pretoria in mid-April.
But of course, the wind spoiled the occasion, measuring +2.8 metres per second and ruling out a new SA record.
Simbine still went on to the win the title, and his official season’s best of 9.99 is still a solid time – ranking joint-13th on the world list.
He went on to the World Relays in Poland with Team SA in the 4x100m, and produced an outstanding finish to clinch the gold medal in the final at the start of the month.
After a quick return home, Simbine and coach Werner Prinsloo headed to their European training base in Gemona, Italy, where they are putting in the hard yards to be in optimum shape for the Tokyo Olympics.
They have opted to miss out on Friday’s Diamond League meeting in Doha, where the 100m field is not the strongest – although the 200m event will have the likes of in-form American Kenneth Bednarek, Justin Gatlin, André de Grasse and Ramil Guliyev taking part.
Instead, Simbine will return to the track at the Rome Diamond League meeting on June 10, with the African Athletics Championships having been postponed once more.
“We are looking at the Rome DL as our first meet in Europe,” Prinsloo told Independent Media from Gemona on Tuesday.
“After that, we can look at where it will be the easiest to travel to. We just need a few good races to prep for Tokyo.
“We’re not sure about (the African Championships). It’s postponed and no date has been confirmed.”
After Rome, the remaining Diamond League events before the Olympics are scheduled for Oslo (July 1), Stockholm (July 4), Monaco (July 9) and London (July 13).
Then it’s off to the Tokyo Olympics, where the men’s 100m heats will start on July 31.
The leading South African on the world list is Simbine’s Tuks teammate, Gift Leotlela, who ran 9.94 seconds in Johannesburg earlier this month – the joint-third fastest time in the world this year.
American Trayvon Bromell tops the 2021 list with 9.88, but things are sure to heat up in the coming weeks ahead of the Olympics.