Akani Simbine (Tuks/hpc) hopes to break 20 seconds in the 200 metres next year. 'The question is not whether Akani is capable of doing so, but when he will do it,' said his coach, Werner Prinsloo. 'I personally thought he would be a contender to win a bronze medal in the 200 metres at the Olympic Games in Rio but unfortunately things did not work out as we had hoped.'
When Simbine ran 20,16 s in Budapest shortly before the Olympic Games, he set a new best time for the 200 metres. According to Prinsloo, the plan is for Simbine to compete in the 100 metres as well as the 200 metres at next year's World Championships in Athletics in London.
'I don't think we will have to make drastic changes to his training programme to accomplish this. We shall stick to the things we know work for him. The important thing is not to overdo things. Akani did not compete in as many races in 2016 as he did in 2015. I am a firm believer in running the right race at the right time.'
The Tuks/hpc athlete can rightfully claim to be one of the top sprinters in the 100 metres at the moment. His breakthrough race was in Budapest where he ran a time of 9,89 s, the fifth fastest time in the world. Since then Simbine has not run one bad race. He finished fifth in the Olympic final and was second at both the Paris and Zurich Diamond League meetings, finishing third overall in the League standings.
Asked what he thinks led to Simbine establishing himself as one of the top 100 metres sprinters in the world, Prinsloo said: 'At the beginning of the season my goal was to help Akani be faster out of his starting blocks. I also spent time working on the first phase (1 to 30 metres) of his race. In the past he tended to be just off the leader's pace in this phase, which meant that he had to work much harder over the second part of the race. Once he mastered this, there was basically no stopping him.'
Prinsloo said there is an excellent chance that Simbine will again train with the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake in Jamaica next year. 'While I was at the Games, their coach Gus Mills asked when they would see Akani again. He definitely benefited from training in Jamaica. It certainly helped to improve his start and, as a bonus, he had the opportunity to befriend Usain and Yohan.'