After a few near misses in major events, Akani Simbine is certainly setting himself up perfectly for a shot at Olympic gold this year - if the Tokyo Games do take place. Photo: EPA
After a few near misses in major events, Akani Simbine is certainly setting himself up perfectly for a shot at Olympic gold this year - if the Tokyo Games do take place. Photo: EPA

Simbine starts season with a scorcher

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Mar 16, 2020

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After a few near misses in major events, Akani Simbine is certainly setting himself up perfectly for a shot at Olympic gold this year - if the Tokyo Games do take place ...

The South African sprinting star does have a 100m Commonwealth Games gold medal at home (as well as a silver for the 4x100m relay) from the 2018 event in the aptly-named Gold Coast, Australia.

But he is chasing the ‘real deal’ - Olympic gold - having finished fifth in the 2016 Rio Games, while he ended fifth and fourth respectively at the World Championships in London in 2017 and Doha last year.

And he made the best possible start at the weekend, when he returned to serious racing at the Gauteng North championships in Pretoria.

The 26-year-old Simbine thundered down the Tuks Stadium track in a thrilling 9.91 seconds in a heat on Saturday, which was the fastest 100m time recorded in South Africa, and just 0.02 off his national mark of 9.89.

“Blast off! The #2020 season has officially launched!!!! #trackandfield #athletics #sprint #100m #olympics,” Simbine posted on Twitter yesterday alongside a video clip of his 9.91 run.

He produced 10.03 in the semi-finals and 10.01 in the final, well ahead of SA and club teammate Henricho Bruintjies in 10.08.

Those times prove that Simbine is in a good space, despite the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, which is likely to affect his schedule in Europe in the coming weeks and months.

He is normally based in Gemona in north-eastern Italy with Wayde van Niekerk for the European season.

“I wanted to be fast. It was exciting to open my season running 9.91. I know I am capable of being even faster. My technical execution was far from perfect,” Simbine said in a Tuks Sport statement yesterday.

“As an athlete, I can only focus on controlling the controllable. That is giving 100 percent during training and racing. The aim is to be the best I can if the Olympic Games should go ahead. You can’t be in a situation, thinking it is not going to happen and stop training.

“It is a conscious decision to race more in South Africa this season. The aim is to get mentally as tough as I can be so that when I get to run in Europe, I am up to any challenge.”

Simbine’s next challenge is the Athletics South Africa Grand Prix series, which starts in Cape Town on April 9.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Caster Semenya is confident she will book her Tokyo Olympics ticket by qualifying for the 200 metres after switching to the sprint distance in a bid to avoid World Athletics regulations aimed at lowering her testosterone.

The South African clocked a personal best of 23.49 in the 200m in Pretoria on Friday to move closer to the 22.80 time needed to qualify for Tokyo.

“It’s possible. I call myself supernatural so I can do anything I want. It’s all about putting in the hard work,” Semenya said.

“I’m a power athlete. I can do anything from 100 to the marathon. I do have power and speed which has helped me to run the 800, but obviously from (a) young (age), I’ve also done 200m.”

Semenya says she has a long history in the 200m and had it not been for a lack of coaching in South Africa’s rural Limpopo province, she might have made a career out of the distance.

“It has always been easy for me to do that strength, I was born with strength. But with conditions that I had in Limpopo, I didn’t have a coach so I had to choose to move to middle distances.

“I wish I had been doing 200m from age 12. I don’t know where I would have been now.”

@AshfakMohamed 


Cape Times

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