Akani Simbine sets Olympic ‘marker’ as Prudence Sekgodiso, Adriaan Wildschutt shine in Oslo

Akani Simbine (second from right) beat 100m Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs (third from right) at the Oslo Diamond League event on Thursday night. Photo: EPA

Akani Simbine (second from right) beat 100m Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs (third from right) at the Oslo Diamond League event on Thursday night. Photo: EPA

Published Jun 1, 2024


Akani Simbine says he has “put my marker out to the world” after beating 100m Olympic champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs at the Oslo Diamond League meeting on Thursday night.

The South African sprinter retained his unbeaten status in the 100m this year by clocking a superb season’s best of 9.94 seconds – which is just short of the world lead time of 9.93, set by Americans Christian Miller and Kendal Williams.

It was a night to remember for Mzansi at the Bislett Stadium, as women’s 800m star Prudence Sekgodiso won her race, while Adriaan Wildschutt set a new SA record in the men’s 5 000m event.

Simbine made a reasonable start on a wet track, but it was Italian Jacobs and British athlete Jeremiah Azu who roared out of the blocks.

Azu, in lane three, looked like he could go all the way, but just as Simbine ranged up on his outside, he pulled up with a hamstring injury.

It was then a straight shoot-out between Jacobs and Simbine, and the South African powered away from the field over the last 30 metres to win comfortably in the end.

Jacobs faded to finish fourth in his season’s best 10.03, with Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown surging into second with 9.99, while Cameroon’s Emmanuel Eseme came third in 10.01.

Simbine’s 9.94 was his best time this year, but with a few months still to go to the Paris Olympics in August, he is not getting carried away by his form at the moment.

He will know that the top Americans, such as Noah Lyles, Christian Coleman and Fred Kerley, will be much quicker later in the year as it is all about peaking for the Olympics.

“I am happy with my performance, and I hope there will be more highlights coming up as we build towards the Olympic Games,” Simbine told the Diamond League website.

“I put my marker out to the world today that I am here. The goal was the win today, and I did that. Getting the win always helps with confidence as we get closer to Paris.

“It ended up in the rain, which probably influenced the race – but at the end of the day, we all have to run 100m, rain or not, and get to the line first.

“I did that today, which I am happy with, but I have a lot to work on and a lot to do.”

Sekgodiso again showed her class as her patient approach paid off to clinch the 800m victory – which followed her recent maiden Diamond League triumph in Marrakech – in a time of 1:58.66 as she held off Jamaica’s Natoya Goule-Toppin, who was second in 1:59.10.

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“I just gave it all like all these girls. There is still so much more to come – I am only 22 years old, so still many things to work on,” Sekgodiso said.

“My work has just paid off, and it is still going well towards the Olympic Games.

“I was prepared for this weather because I have seen the weather changing all the time. I am happy for the way I run.

“I did not chase the pace, to be honest. This means a lot to me, and I am ready for more. It is an amazing atmosphere here, and I wish to come back again.”

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Wildschutt beat his previous SA 5 000m record of 12:56.76, run on an indoor track in Boston in January, by clocking 12:56.67 on Thursday – beating his outdoor best of 13:02.46 – to finish 13th in a blisteringly quick race won by Ethiopia’s Hagos Gebrhiwet in a world-lead time of 12:36.73, which was also a meeting record, national record and personal best.

Two other South Africans competed in Oslo – Lythe Pillay finished sixth in the 400m in 45.34, while Ryan Mphahlele was 12th in the 1 500m in 3:33.85.