Akani Simbine is back after a short injury hiatus and looking to get back to shape ahead of the Rio Olympics. Photo: WU HONG

Johannesburg - He’s done it! With his first race of the season, South African sprint champion Akani Simbine got his Olympic year off to the best possible start when he broke his own 100m national record in Pretoria on Tuesday night.

The 22-year-old Simbine, competing in Athletics South Africa’s Nite Series meet at Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria, clocked 9.96 seconds to improve the mark by 0.01sec after he ran 9.97 in July last year.

Klapmuts sprinter Henricho Bruintjies shared the 100m record with Simbine, having run 9.97 in July 2015 as well.

Tukkies athlete Simbine faced a relatively strong field on Tuesday, although Bruintjies was not taking part as he will be going to the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon in the US, which takes place from March 17-20.

Simbine’s time is yet another Olympic qualifying mark, and if he can continue his upward curve in the coming months, he could push for a place in the final. And once he is in the final eight, anything can happen at the Rio Olympics in August.

Women’s 100m national record-holder Carina Horn also recorded another Olympic qualifying time with an 11.22sec on Tuesday night, but she will hope to break the 11-second mark before going to Rio.


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