JOHANNESBURG – Affirming South Africa’s status as a global sprinting powerhouse Akani Simbine and Henricho Bruintjies sprinted to a rare gold-silver double at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Simbine made history as the country's first ever 100m champion at the Commonwealth Games crossing the line in 10.03 seconds. The sprinter produced his customary top-end speed after a sluggish start to cross the line in first place.
Bruintjies produced the best performance of his career finishing ahead of former world champion Yohan Blake winning the silver medal in 10.17.
Blake rounded off the podium in third place with a time of 10.19.
Simbine now finally has a major championship medal to show for his hard work over the last few years.
He has featured in the 2016 Olympic and the 2017 World Championships finals only two five-placed finishes to show for it.
“It is just really, really great, I am happy with myself, I am happy with my team, my coach working so hard and telling me I can do it and my family back home,” Simbine said.
What an incredible night! Thank you for all the messages 🙏🏽 I am truly humbled! Still hasn’t sunk in . maybe when I wake up tomorrow I’ll realize it is not a dream. #100mGold! We did it @KINGBRUINTJIES!! 🇿🇦🙏🏽🥇🥈 pic.twitter.com/huCh0C4ppb
“It is an amazing feeling to come here and do what I could have done, and I’ve won the gold medal which is something I knew I could do.”
It was quite apt that Bruintjies and Simbine shared the podium as they have been at the forefront of South African sprinting the last four years.
The pair played tit-for-tat in breaking the national record back in 2015 before Simbine started dominating the short sprint event.
While Simbine has been soaring over the last two seasons, Bruintjies has been battling to find his way back to the top.
Monday’s silver medal was a well-deserved reward for his perseverance despite setbacks and hardships.
“I am quite happy with the performance, for a couple of years I’ve been working hard but I haven’t been in finals like Akani,” Bruintjies said.
“This was my first final and to get onto the podium is just amazing for me. From here on I can just work for more podiums in the future.”
Before the start of the Games, Simbine said he would no longer merely hope for the best going into a major championship but go out with the mindset of winning gold.
“I believed in myself from the start of the race and I believed in what I could do and focusing on myself,” Simbine said.
“I think everybody is celebrating and everybody believes sprinting in South Africa has been a long time coming and we can have a South African on the podium and now we can have two on the podium.”
The para-athletes Dyan Buis and Charl du Toit opened the sprinting medal tally when they raced to T38 silver and T37 100m bronze respectively.
Earlier, bowls quartet Elma Davis‚ Esme Kruger‚ Nicolene Neal and Johanna Snyman won South Africa’s second medal on the greens at the Games.
They went down 18-16 to defending world champions New Zealand in their gold-silver match early on Monday.
It is the bowlers’ second medal of the Games after Colleen Piketh won the singles bronze medal the day before.
“We are immensely proud of our achievement, it is the first Commonwealth Games for all four of us, and we are extremely happy with the silver medal,” Kruger said.
Their silver medal pushed South Africa’s tally at the Games into the double figures winning the country’s 10th medal.
South Africa has traditionally fielded strong fours teams at the quadrennial showpiece with the new proving their class.
Four years ago, the quartet of Esme Steyn, Susan Nel, Santjie Steyn, and Tracy-Lee Botha won gold at Glasgow 2014.