ASABA, Nigeria – South African sprinter Akani Simbine has accomplished both his goals so far this year after bagging the second when he won Thursday's 100m final at the African Athletics Championships in Asaba, Nigeria.
At the beginning of the year, the Tuks sprinter made it clear that he had only two targets for the season. The first was to won gold in the 100m at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the other to be the African champion.
Simbine said that as he had been running sub 10 seconds in the 100m over the last three years it was about time he started winning titles - the one thing that was missing from his impressive sprinting CV. But Simbine wants more despite his gold in Nigeria on Thursday. He now has set himself a new challenge to win the 100m at the IAAF Intercontinental Cup in September.
"I came out this year wanting to win the Commonwealth and continental titles so it's been a great year for me and I'm really excited ahead of the next couple of seasons," said Simbine, who qualified for next month's IAAF Continental Cup in Ostrava with his victorious effort.
Former SA record-holder Simon Magakwe also did well in the 100, recovering from a poor start to grab the bronze medal in 10.35 behind Ivory Coast's Arthur Cisse. "I stumbled at the start but I did not give up and I managed to catch them," Magakwe said. "I pushed hard and I'm happy with a podium place."
South African long jump star Rushwahl Samaai edged out countryman and world champion Luvo Manyonga to take a gold medal on on Thursday. Samaai's best leap was 8.45m which pipped Manyonga by just 2cms, with his countryman taking the silver medal. "We're competitors but at the end of the day we try to back each other up," Samaai said of their friendly rivalry.
Manyonga was full of praise for Samaai, who has taken a back seat at recent major championships. "He came here to defend his African title and he did that very well," Manyonga said. "He's been consistent throughout the year and I'm happy for him."
In general, it was an excellent day for SA with a haul of eight medals, including three golds. In the men's discus throw Victor Hogan and Werner Visser added another double to the national team's haul. Hogan produced a 60.06m heave to secure a convincing victory, while Visser earned silver with a 58.82m attempt.
Building on her fine form this season, Rikenette Steenkamp stepped on the podium in the 100m hurdles final, taking the silver medal in 13.18. "I didn't have the best start and I hit a hurdle, but it was a good race and I'm happy to have achieved my goal," Steenkamp said.
World junior champion Kayle Blignaut was also in superb form, taking a podium spot in the men's shot put in the absence of countryman Orazio Cremona who tore a calf muscle during the warm-up before the final. Blignaut delivered a best throw of 19.05m to earn the bronze medal.
African News Agency (ANA)