Top field in provincial champs can push Akani Simbine to sub-10 time
CAPE TOWN - After coming so close to breaking the 10-second barrier in his first race of the season, Akani Simbine will have an ideal opportunity to do just that at the Gauteng North provincial championships tomorrow.
The Commonwealth Games champion stopped the clock at 10.00 seconds to clinch victory at the first Athletics SA invitational meeting at Ruimsig Athletics Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
He had a tail-wind of 2.1m/s, so the time won’t count towards his official records, but it was a worthy start to an Olympic year after months of inactivity due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Simbine will hope that the wind is not a factor at the TUKS Stadium tomorrow, with a hot day and temperature of 28 degrees forecasted.
The 27-year-old was tested by Luxolo Adams on Tuesday, with the latter finishing second in 10.08.
Adams is scheduled to participate in the provincial championships again tomorrow, but Simbine will also have other serious contenders to the Gauteng North crown.
Former SA 100m record holder Simon Magakwe – who has a personal best of 9.98 – Emile Erasmus (10.01), Thando Dlodlo (10.08) and Gift Leotlela (10.12) are all set to challenge Olympic star Simbine in Pretoria.
That means the final could be a really quick one, with the athletes keen to achieve the Olympic qualifying time of 10.05, while also tuning up for next month’s national championships.
One of those is Leotlela, who burst on to the scene a few years ago by qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics as an 18-year-old in the 200m.
Several injuries have hampered his progress since, but now he is hoping to rediscover that speed that took him to Brazil at the last Olympic Games.
“How could I just quit when I was running PB; virtually every time I raced. I know I can be even faster. There is so much more I can give to the sport. Sub-10 seconds in the 100 metres and sub-20 seconds in the 200 metres is doable. It is what motivates me,” Leotlela told the TUKS Sport website this week.
The 22-year-old goes into the provincial championships with a quick time of 6.53 in a 60m race in Johannesburg last week.
“I did not want to race, as I still have a slight knee-injury niggle. My coach Hennie Kriel convinced me to give it go as he was excited about the times I am running during training,” Leotlela said.
“On crossing the finish line and seeing my time, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I so needed the result. I am now more confident and excited to be back and running quality times.”