Akani Simbine will be hoping he can clock a good time in the World Athletics Champs 100m race. Photo: Matthew Childs/Reuters
Now a familiar face in major 100m finals, South African record holder Akani Simbine believes he can race to victory in track and field’s blue-riband event.

Simbine today starts his campaign at the IAAF World Championships in Doha backing into the blocks in the 100m heats.

The 26-year-old has featured in the 100m final at both the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 London World Championships where he finished fifth in each race.

“I wouldn’t say I am desperate to upgrade to a podium spot, I worked my way up to a podium spot,” Simbine said.

“I am in the mindset of where I am a stronger runner, I am a more mature runner, and I can handle myself in high-pressure situations. It is now for me to go out and do what I know I can do.”

Simbine is ranked among the top-five fastest men this year, but he will have to beat a classy field to step onto the podium.

“Last year was all about making it onto the podium and making sure I am finishing top-three every time I race,” Simbine said.

“This year it is the same and building on that form of being on the podium and being one of the best. My next phase is to make sure I am on the podium at the World Champs, and I am running confidently and dominantly.”

Before 2018 Simbine regularly dropped sub-10 second times, but the silverware seemed to elude him.

He made history at the Rio 2016 Games becoming the first South African male sprinter since Danie Joubert in Los Angeles 1932 to make it into final of the 100m dash at the Olympics.

A year later Simbine made it into the 100m final at the IAAF World Championships in London where he again missed out on a medal.

Establishing himself as a championship racer, Simbine set out to convert his speed into medals in 2018. Simbine did just that racing to the Gold Coast Commonwealth and African titles.

Simbine’s biggest challenge will come in the form of American athlete Christian Coleman, who dodged a doping ban on a technicality despite missing three drug tests. The field includes defending world champion Justin Gatlin of the United States and Nigerian sensation Divine Oduduru.

Simbine’s season’s best of 9.93 seconds ranks him fifth fastest this year with another American Cravon Gillespie while Coleman boasts the world-leading team of 9.81.

South African 100m champion Simon Magakwe and promising youngster Thando Dlodlo will also be looking to advance to tomorrow’s semi-finals.

South Africa will have its best chance of winning medals at the Doha World Championships tomorrow should Simbine and the long jumpers make it into finals.

Defending world long jump champion Luvo Manyonga and bronze medallist Ruswahl Samaai will be in action in today’s qualification round while Simbine competes in the first day heats.

@ockertde 


The Star

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