WATCH: The 9.82 time is now in the legs, says Akani Simbine
CAPE TOWN - Akani Simbine ran arguably the best 100m of his career at the SA championships on Thursday, but is still searching for the “perfect race” ahead of the final on Friday.
The Commonwealth Games champion produced a remarkable performance to clock 9.82 seconds in the semi-finals at the Tuks Stadium in Pretoria, which would have surpassed his national record of 9.89.
But a strong tail-wind of +2.8m/s meant that the time was not recognised officially.
Simbine took a quiet moment on the blue track after the stadium announcer confirmed the wind reading, but was quickly up again to take in the applause from his fellow athletes and officials – with no spectators allowed due to Covid-19.
Despite the wind, it was still a wonderful effort, and proof that Simbine is geared up to go even quicker in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics.
“I came to the national championships wanting to run fast. That is why I am happy with 9.82. The time is in the legs now. The challenge remains to keep on working to be faster. I want to end the South African season with a new personal best. It would give me confidence when I compete internationally,” he told his Tuks club website.
“I’m very excited by this result. I’ve been working towards this for a long time,” Simbine added in an Athletics SA press release.
“Even though it’s wind-assisted, it shows I have it in the legs and my body can go this fast. It’s about trying to put together the perfect race and getting my phases right. If I do that, anything can happen, and the times will come.”
Simbine has been working hard with his coach Werner Prinsloo on maintaining his speed all the way to the finish line, and that was evident in Thursday’s semi-final, where he seemed to explode forward from the 50-metre mark and ran “through the line” before looking up for the time.
In Friday’s final, which takes place at 5pm, Simbine will hope that the wind is below the legal limit of +2.0m/s, while warm weather has again been forecast for Pretoria.
The 27-year-old will be pushed all the way to the line by Gift Leotlela, who also ran a superb time of 9.94 in his semi-final, but was denied a personal best as the wind reading was at +3.6m/s.
Another Gauteng North athlete, Thando Dlodlo, was victorious in his semi-final in 10.21, and will look to go close to a sub-10 second time in the final.
* Meanwhile, 400m Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk will compete in the 200m on Friday, with the heats starting at 10.15am and semi-finals at 1.40pm. The 200m final takes place on Saturday at 6.35pm.