Phew! Akani Simbine survives blistering qualifiers to advance to 100m final
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CAPE TOWN - Wow! Akani Simbine lived to fight another day and stay in contention for a medal after a blistering set of 100m semi-finals at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.
South African champion and African record-holder Simbine was considered a serious challenger to the leading Americans for a podium finish, and expected to clinch one of the top two automatic qualifying spots in his semi-final.
But instead, it was China’s Bingtian Su who caught everybody off guard with a terrific new Asian record time of 9.83 seconds to win the third semi-final, beating United States superstar Ronnie Baker (also 9.83, a new personal best) by a few fractions of a second.
Simbine didn’t have the best of starts and was chasing Su and Baker from the outset. He couldn’t catch that duo, nor Italy’s Lamont Jacobs, who finished third in a superb 9.84 – a new European record.
The South African, though, kept running hard through the line and posted a time of 9.90. That proved to be enough to advance to the final as one of the two ‘fastest losers’, along with Jacobs.
The two other South Africans, Gift Leotlela and Shaun Maswanganyi, were unable to beat their personal best marks and were knocked out in their semi-finals.
Leotlela ran 9.94 earlier this year, but faced a tough task in his race against Canada’s Andre de Grasse and American Fred Kerley.
And so it proved for the 23-year-old South African, who tried hard, but seemed to pull up with an injury just before the line, and then fell down on to the track in clocking 10.03 for fourth position.
Maswanganyi’s fastest run is 10.04, and the 20-year-old would’ve hoped to go even quicker. But it was not to be as Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes won in 9.98, followed by Enoch Adegoke of Nigeria and Trayvon Bromell of the United States, who both finished on 10.00, with Maswanganyi sixth in 10.10.
Now the 27-year-old Simbine has it all to do in the final at 2.50pm SA time on Sunday. He produced a new African record of 9.84 seconds in early July, but will have to go even quicker to claim a medal in the final.
Qualifiers for 100m final
Bingtian Su (China) 9.83
Ronnie Baker (USA) 9.83
Lamont Jacobs (Italy) 9.84
Akani Simbine (RSA) 9.90
Fred Kerley (USA) 9.96
Zharnel Hughes (GB) 9.98
Andre de Grasse (Canada) 9.98
Enoch Adegoke (Nigeria) 10.00
First 100m semi-final
1 Fred Kerley (USA) 9.96
2 Andre de Grasse (Canada) 9.98
3 Ferdinand Omurwa (Kenya) 10.00
4 Gift Leotlela (RSA) 10.03
5 Jimmy Vicaut (France) 10.11
6 Yohan Blake (Jamaica) 10.14
7 Usheoritse Itsekiri (Nigeria) 10.29
DQ: Reece Prescod (GB, false start)
Second 100m semi-final
1 Zharnel Hughes (GB) 9.98
2 Enoch Adegoke (Nigeria) 10.00
3 Trayvon Bromell (USA) 10.00
4 Oblique Seville (Jamaica) 10.09
5 Rohan Browning (Australia) 10.09
6 Shaun Maswanganyi (RSA) 10.10
7 Filippo Tortu (Italy) 10.16
8 Femi Ogunode (Qatar) 10.17
Third 100m semi-final
1 Bingtian Su (China) 9.83
2 Ronnie Baker (USA) 9.83
3 Lamont Jacobs (Italy) 9.84
4 Akani Simbine (RSA) 9.90
5 Chijindu Ujah (GB) 10.11
6 Jason Rogers (Saint Kitts and Nevis) 10.12
7 Arthur Cisse (Ivory Coast) 10.18
8 Paulo Camilo (Brazil) 10.31