Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy, Fred Kerley of the United States and Akani Simbine of South Africa during the Olympics 100m final. Pictrure: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy, Fred Kerley of the United States and Akani Simbine of South Africa during the Olympics 100m final. Pictrure: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

’It sucks’ for Akani Simbine but ’the best man won’ Olympic 100m final

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Aug 1, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - “It just sucks.” That summed up the mood of Akani Simbine on Sunday after he missed out on a medal in the 100m final at the Tokyo Olympics by just four one-hundredths of a second.

The 27-year-old South African, ranked No 2 in the world behind American Trayvon Bromell coming into Japan with his African record of 9.84 seconds, was unable to replicate that performance from early July in Hungary at the Olympic Stadium.

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Simbine was quickly out of the blocks, but took a while to get up to speed as Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs burst into the lead.

Bromell, who ran a blisteringly quick 9.77 earlier this year, didn’t even reach the final, but his American compatriots Fred Kerley and Ronnie Baker hit the front at the 50-metre mark in the final.

The long-striding Jacobs, though, found a second gear over the last 40 metres and ran away from the rest of the field to win in a superb time of 9.80 seconds, which was an Italian and European record.

ALSO READ: Phew! Akani Simbine survives blistering qualifiers to advance to 100m final

Simbine, who was in lane two, was not able to stay with Jacobs alongside him in lane three, but was hoping to at least get on to the podium.

But Kerley held on for second spot and the silver medal in 9.84, which was also a personal best, and Canada’s Andre de Grasse caught up with Simbine to clinch the bronze medal in 9.89 – also a personal best.

The South African had to be satisfied with fourth position in 9.93, which was one higher than at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Simbine won gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, but missed out on a medal at the 2017 and 2019 world championships, finishing fifth and fourth respectively.

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“It’s just a race, you know. It’s a final … the better man won on the day, and really happy for Jacobs,” Simbine said after the race.

“I’m disappointed in myself, but happy that I could make the final. Just their (the medallists’) top-end speed is at another level…”

Simbine waited for the results to come up on the stadium scoreboard alongside De Grasse as they hoped to claim the bronze, but he had to concede third place to the Canadian once more, just like at the 2019 world championships in Doha, where Simbine clocked 9.93 as well to his rival’s 9.90.

De Grasse was also third at the 2016 Rio Olympics in 9.91, with Simbine fifth in 9.94. “Yeah, yeah, yeah man… It seems like Andre just keeps pipping me at the championship, you know. And yeah, it just sucks. But it is what it is.”

Now the South African will have to get over his disappointment quickly, as he will get a second chance for a medal in Tokyo in the 4x100m relay, with the heats on Thursday.

@ashfakmohamed

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