Cape Town – Akani Simbine gave it his all, and it could almost not have been any closer, but the South African star just missed out on a successful defence of his 100m title at the African athletics championships in Mauritius on Thursday.
The 28-year-old was up against African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya, who stated earlier this week that he had turned down Diamond League invitations to be in Port Louis and become the continental champion for the first time.
But Simbine wanted to claim a second consecutive gold medal after his 2018 victory in Nigeria, while he would also have been smarting from his defeat to Omanyala in Johannesburg in April.
The SA record-holder went toe-to-toe with the muscular Kenyan from the start, and the duo were neck-and-neck throughout the race. Simbine looked to have edged ahead at around the 60-metre mark, but Omanyala hit back, and the pair produced the same time of 9.93 seconds…
But the 26-year-old of Nairobi was declared the winner after the time was rounded down to one-thousandth of a second, and his time was 9.927, with Simbine given 9.930.
💥OHHHH ! What a race...— SPORTALL - La 1ère plateforme vidéo 100% SPORTS (@sportall_media) June 9, 2022
🥇Ferdinand Omanyala is African champion with the same time as Akani Simbine (9"93).
📺![CDATA]>💻![CDATA]>📱Watch live https://t.co/q8sxaoIVRe
#COCAAS22 #athletics #athle #africanchampionships #championnatsdafrique@WorldAthletics @confwebcaa @Ferdiomanyala pic.twitter.com/rxULZ3y3Rp
The South African, though, will be delighted with his performance after a later start to the season as usual, although the 9.93 time won’t be listed as a season’s best as the wind reading was illegal at +4.5m/s.
Fellow SA sprinter Henricho Bruintjies backed up Simbine superbly with a late charge to grab the bronze medal in 10.01.
It was a similar outcome in the women’s 100m final, with Carina Horn claiming a podium spot by finishing third in 11.14 seconds, which was slightly slower than her semi-final time of 11.08.
Gina Bass of The Gambia took the gold in 11.06, with Niger’s Seyni Aminatou ending second in 11.09.
There was another bronze medal for Mzansi to celebrate in the women’s 100m hurdles, where the 20-year-old Marione Fourie equalled her personal best time of 12.93 seconds – although the illegal wind reading means that the time won’t count.
Nigerian star Tobi Amusan won the gold medal comfortably in a superb time of 12.57, followed by Ebony Morrison of Liberia in 12.77.
🏆Tobi Amusan wins!— SPORTALL - La 1ère plateforme vidéo 100% SPORTS (@sportall_media) June 9, 2022
🇳![CDATA]>🇬The Nigerian crossed the finish line in 12"57.
#COCAAS22 #athletics #athle #africanchampionships #championnatsdafrique@WorldAthletics @confwebcaa pic.twitter.com/3BZ0umoCwR
South Africa will be hoping to earn more medals later on Thursday, when Antonio Alkana defends his 110m hurdles title, while Caster Semenya will compete in the 5 000m final.