Cape Town — Actions speak louder than words, says Akani Simbine, and that is what the big man did by winning the 100m title at the SA athletics championships at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Thursday.
The national record-holder clinched the gold medal in a time of 10.31 seconds to ensure that he is still the king of SA sprinting.
The 28-year-old was a bit emotional afterwards as he spoke about how tough it has been to implement a new strategy in 2022, where his coach Werner Prinsloo devised a plan that saw him start the season later, so that he can peak at the world championships in July and the Commonwealth Games in August.
Simbine stated that he has been criticised in some quarters for that approach, but he silenced those doubters by winning the gold medal.
He was pushed hard by youngsters Bradley Nkoana and Neo Mosebi, but was able to enjoy the victory before the finish by gesturing to the rest of the field before crossing the finish line.
Nkoana was second in 10.34, and Mosebi took the bronze in the same time.
“Mentally, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Everybody has been coming at me, saying ‘Akani’s gone, Akani’s gone… he’s not the same since the Olympics’. And for me, it’s been a thing of trusting the programme that we are on with Coach (Werner Prinsloo) and trusting the long plan,” Simbine said.
“Not letting everybody’s word get to us. Being here, actions speak louder than words, and I came back to the track and I said I’m going to do it at SAs.
“What did I do? I came to the SAs and I did it. No matter what the athletes can say… Everybody can chat, but when it’s time to produce, I will produce. That is what my goal is for this season.
“There is a bigger weight on my shoulders… But it’s a bold tick, and I’m just very happy about the win.”
It was a sprint double for Central Gauteng Athletics, with Carina Horn taking the women’s 100m title in 11.54 seconds in the absence of the injured teen sensation Viwe Jingqi, who withdrew from the event yesterday morning with a hamstring problem.
Horn was just delighted to claim the gold medal after making her comeback from a two-year doping ban in 2022.
“I am happy about the title. Maybe I must have pushed it in the heats, because it was an easy 11.4 (earlier in the day). But I am happy with the three races – injury-free and healthy. It’s just about the title,” she said.
“I felt it (the wind) already in the semi-final. That’s why I slacked down, as it takes a lot out of you – even with three races as well. You have to know how to run at a championship, and run rounds. Times are not fast, but I’m happy.
“It’s a nice feeling, I must say. It’s a relief. The women’s sprints were good this year already, so it’s good to have some competition as well.”
It was a difficult afternoon for Caster Semenya, though, as she had to be content with second place in the women’s 5 000m.
Dominique Scott-Efurd, who hails from Cape Town, but is based in Arkansas in the United States, was able to showcase her long-distance prowess to outlast the two-time Olympic 800m champion in the 12-and-a-half-lap race and win in a time of 15 minutes, 28.10 seconds (15:28.10).
Semenya was close to the front for most of the race alongside Scott-Efurd and Glenrose Xaba in her quest for a world championship qualifying time of 15:10.00.
But with about four laps to go, Scott-Efurd opened up a gap on the rest of the field and went all the way, with Semenya second in 15:31.50, while Kyla Jacobs took the bronze in 15:37.56.
“I wasn’t really concerned with making it a fast race. I just wanted to get the title today. Obviously Caster is an amazing runner, and she has a super-fast, deadly kick!” Scott-Efurd said.
“So, I knew I couldn’t leave it until the last lap… not even really the last kilometre. My plan was to see how the race unfolded. With four laps to go, I decided I needed to make my move, and I tried to make it pretty decisive. I’m pretty happy with my race today.”