Akani Simbine was disappointed with his fifth-place finish at the world championships. Photo: Alastair Grant, AP

JOHANNESBURG – “Go out and just have fun.”

That will be coach Werner Prinsloo’s advice to Akani Simbine (Tuks/HPC) when he lines up on Thursday evening to compete in the 100m at the Diamond League Meeting in Zurich.

Don’t get Prinsloo wrong – he firmly believes that Simbine can win. He has after all beaten the world champion, Justin Gatlin, at the Diamond League meeting in Doha. 

“But being his coach, I’ve got to be realistic. It has been a long and hard season. I fully realise that at this stage he is physically and emotionally drained, so I don’t want Akani to be under unnecessary pressure for his final race of the season.

“Some of his best results came about when Akani was just racing for the sake of racing. His South African record (9.89) last year in Budapest is a good example.”

Simbine’s next big challenge in the 100 metres is going to be next year when he competes at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Prinsloo is of the opinion that because the Games are in April, it will favour the South African athletes. He bases his confidence on the fact that the SA Championships usually take place in April, which means the local athletes and coaches know how to peak at that time.

“I think it might be slightly more difficult for the athletes in the northern hemisphere to properly prepare for the Commonwealth Games.”

Prinsloo wants Simbine to win the 100m at the Games.

Akani Simbine has beaten world champion Justin Gatlin in the Diamond League this season. Photo: Noushad Thekkayil, EPA

“He has competed in an Olympic and a World Championships final. So we have ‘ticked’ that box. His next challenge is to start winning titles,” he said.

“Akani was quite disappointed with his performance in the World Championships final. He made it clear to me afterwards that he has had it with fifth-place finishes in finals. He now wants to start winning.”

The Tuks/HPC athlete finished fifth at last year’s Olympic final and now at the World Championships.

Prinsloo said that from now on, Simbine’s main focus is only going to be the 100 metres. The World Championships in London was the last time he had doubled up competing in both sprints.

“International athletics has become quite specialised, which is why you find fewer athletes trying to be competitive in more than one event.

“Akani will race the odd 200 metres on occasion, but our main focus from now on will be the 100 metres.”

Prinsloo predicts that South Africa’s sprinters have the ability to win the 100m, 200m and 400m at the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

The world long jump champion Luvo Manyonga (Tuks/HPC) will try and continue a year long victory streak tomorrow night in Zurich. Last year’s Olympic final was the last time he got beaten in the long jump.

Wenda Nel and LJ van Zyl (both Tuks/HPC) will compete in their respective 400-metre hurdles races in Zurich.

African News Agency (ANA)