South Africa finally got the relay team it has been dreaming of for the past four years, now it was up to the athletes to produce the goods.
National 100m record-holder Akani Simbine is adamant South Africa is the team to beat at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia.
A quartet consisting of Simbine as the anchor, Anaso Jobodwana, Clarence Munyai, and Henricho Bruintjies has the potential to shatter the South African record that was set at Glasgow 2014.
While Simbine has a realistic chance of winning a medal in the 100m at the Games, he fantasises about the possibilities of a double gold with a victory in the 4x100 relay.
“I think it would always be nice to have more than one gold, the relay gold would be a great one for South African athletics because we’ve been saying for the last four years now that we have a quality relay team and they could win a medal,” Simbine said.
“It’s always been we could, we could, we could but we didn’t and now we have an opportunity at a major competition to go and win a gold medal.”
Four years ago, former national record-holder Simon Magakwe anchored a relay team that included Bruintjies, Simbine and Ncincilili Titi to a new South African record of 38.35 seconds.
South Africa has since then hardly performed as a relay team or had many opportunities to, first train together, and secondly race at a major championship.
At the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing the relay team failed dismally due to a lack of preparations when a mistake at the first change over between Bruintjies and Jobodwana ended their charge for silverware in the heats.
South Africa failed to send teams to the IAAF World Relays in 2014, 2015, and 2017 failing to capitalise on the rising sprinting revolution.
The country has produced five sub-10 second athletes since 2014 but it is yet to transform this into relay success.
Simbine believes South Africa’s time has come to show the world that it is not an empty revolution starting at the Games.
“Comparing ourselves against Jamaica or the Brits, the way I look at it we have a better team than them,” Simbine said.
“I think our chances are very high going there and getting the gold, but it is just a matter of putting the sessions together and getting the baton around.
“I am very positive about the Commonwealth Games in the sense of the 100m and the 4x100m relay team.”
Simbine will back into the blocks in the 100m heats on Sunday on the first day of the track and field programme.
After featuring in both the 2016 Olympic and the 2017 World Championships final and with only two five-placed finishes to show for it, Simbine said he was ready to get the monkey off his back.
“In the past when I competed at a major event I had a mindset of just wanting to get through each round. It was a case of I will see what will happen if I get to qualify for a semi-final, and then I see what happens if I get to the final,” said the Tuks sprinter.
“But my mental approach has changed. I now just see ‘gold’. I believe I am worth a gold medal. I have done the work, and I am at a point where I can get it. I want to make South Africa proud.”