Akani Simbine will not be deterred in his pursuit of becoming one of the world’s best sprinters after a promising season came to an anticlimactic end.
Finishing fifth in the 100m final at the world championships is hardly something to scoff at, but given Simbine’s potential, he should be stepping onto podiums in major competitions.
A hip niggle during the recent London world championships compounded the pressures of performing on such a big stage.
“I had planned to go to the world champs and challenge for a medal; I was a medal contender ... going there and everybody knew that,” Simbine said at a sponsorship launch.
“When I started the rounds, it just didn’t come together, my hip gave in and I took a step backwards because I was running with pain and you can’t give your all when you are running with pain in your body.”
Simbine went into the championships as one of the medal favourites in the short sprint heading to the global showpiece as the third fastest man in the world this year with his season’s best of 9.92 seconds.
He nearly missed out on a berth in the semi-finals due to a hip impingement, but managed to scrape through as one of the fastest non-automatic qualifiers.
“It was a knock for me. This was the year that I said I really want to win a medal and I knew if everything went right and everything in the body was doing the right things, I was definitely going to win a medal,” he said.
“But it just seemed like it wasn’t the time for me to be on the podium, so I am not down and saying I will never be on the podium. It is kind of a motivation to come back next year, make sure I put in more work, make sure that when I go to competitions that I am healthier."
After finishing fifth in the 100m final at the Rio Olympics, Simbine targeted more podiums.
He started his international season by beating eventual world champion Justin Gatlin of the US in the Doha Diamond League meeting in May.
He finished in the top three in every race he lined up in with the exception of the world championship final.
Armed with a new 200m personal best of 19.95sec, Simbine is feeling bullish about his chances of challenging for a medal in both short-sprint distances.
In London he scraped through to the 200m semi-finals where he was knocked out after finishing seventh.
This has done nothing to deter him from attempting another 100-200m double as he targets medals in both events at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
“I want to run the 100-200m double at the Commonwealth Games; it is something I am starting to learn and enjoy as I go on running it,” Simbine said. “It is just different running a double at a major competition, but I am still planning on doing it if I am selected for the team.
“I’ve looked at it as the next cycle to build up to (the 2020 Olympics in) Tokyo; it is three years until Tokyo from next year and I need to make sure when I get to (the) Commonwealth I establish myself.”
Rehabilitation to his hip meant Simbine had to sacrifice some well-needed time off with South Africa’s fastest man putting holiday plans on ice for now.