On Sunday, 5 March 2017, Akani Simbine proved that he has the potential to become the first South African sprinter to win a medal in the short sprint at a World Championships, after running 9,93 s in the 100 metres and 19,95 s in the 200 metres. It might just happen in August in London.
The Tuks athlete's coach Werner Prinsloo admits that winning a medal in the 100 metres is a priority.
'I am confident that Akani has the ability to dip well below 9,9 s in the 100 metres, but we are not going to be obsessed with running specific times. It is the medal we want. Akani might have to race 9,8 s or 9,95 s to win a medal. You never know how the 100 metres is going to play out. What I can guarantee is that Akani will be ready.'
Simbine oozed confidence after what can only be described as one of the best displays by a South African sprinter at a meeting at the TuksAthletics track.
'I think I proved last year that I am a sub-10 seconds runner. Whenever I step onto the track to race the 100 metres, you can expect me to dip under ten seconds. My coach and I set ourselves a goal that in bad race I should still run 9,99 s and on a good day there are to be no limits as to how fast I can go,' he said.
It is interesting to note that only six other athletes have managed to dip below 10 seconds and 20 seconds on the same day.
The first to do so was Calvin Smith in 1983 in Zurich. He ran 9,97 s and 19,99 s. Ato Boldon is the only athlete to have done so on more than one occasion, having achieved the feat in 1996, twice in 1997, and once each in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Before Simbine, Femi Ogunode was the last athlete to achieve this feat in 2015.
Simbine's breakthrough race in the 200 metres is what really excites him. He had a point to prove after last year's disappointment of not being allowed to race the 200 metres at the Olympic Games in Rio, even though he had qualified.
'A sub-20 second race in the 200 metres is one of the first major goals my coach and I set. It was wonderful to get the proverbial monkey off my back.'
Prinsloo never doubted that Simbine was capable of dipping under 20 seconds and does not plan to make any drastic changes to his training programme in the build-up to the World Championships.
'We will stick to the things that we know work for him. The important thing is not to overdo things,' said Prinsloo.