#TuksAthletics: Simbine could become the third SA 100 m sprinter ever to medal at the Games

Posted on August 11, 2016

In the history of the Olympic Games, only two South African sprinters have been able to win a medal in the 100 metres. In London in 1908, Reggie Walker won the 100 metres and in Helsinki in 1952, Daphne Robb-Hasenjäger finished second in the final of the women's 100 metres.

When Akani Simbine settles down in his starting blocks in Rio this weekend, there is a strong possibility that this list will be expanded.

Simbine (Tuks/hpc) certainly has the ability to cause an upset. The fact that he is mentioned in the IAAF preview for the Olympic 100 metres illustrates that he is recognised as one of the current top sprinters in the world. His time of 9,89 s is listed by the IAAF as the fifth best for 2016. Only Justin Gatlin (USA), Trayon Bromell (USA), Jimmy Vicaut (France) and Usain Bolt (Jamaica) have run faster times this season.

Bolt and Gatlin are tipped to be the main protagonists in the 100 metres. Despite having had to overcome injuries, both are still unbeaten. Bolt won four races and Gatlin boasts seven wins in as many races.

Should Bolt win he would be the first athlete to win the 100 metres at three consecutive Olympic Games. Gatlin was the 2004 Olympic Champion.

According to Werner Prinsloo, who coaches Simbine, his charge is not talking much about what may or may not happen from Saturday onwards. 'Judging by the way he has been training and his general demeanour, I can't help but get the impression that Akani is quietly confident. This is a good sign because it shows that he believes in his abilities as a sprinter. But there are still times when Akani seems to have a little bit of self-doubt. There is no need for it. He is a good sprinter.'

According to Prinsloo, there won't be any talk about winning medals before Simbine has qualified for the final. 'Since the beginning of the year we only had one goal and that was to reach the Olympic final. With his winning time of 9,89 seconds in Budapest, Akani proved that this is possible. If he is able to run 9,9 seconds in the semi-finals he ought to go through. In the final, it will be important that he gets off to a good start. Once he is at full speed he can keep up with the worlds' best and even outrun them.'

Prinsloo said over the last few weeks his only task was to make sure that the Tuks/hpc athlete maintain the form that enabled him to set a new South African record in Budapest. 'So I did not change much in the way he trains. At most, I tweaked small things in his technique. There is definitely another fast time in him.'


- Author Wilhelm de Swardt

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