Athletics

Ecstatic Akani on World Relay Champs win: 'It’s going to be a good show at the Olympics'

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Akani Simbine. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)
Akani Simbine. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)
  • SA sprint king Akani Simbine couldn’t hide his ecstasy after leading Team SA to victory in the 4x100 men’s relay event at the World Relay Championships.
  • "It’s going to be a good show at the Olympics," said Simbine.
  • Clarence Munyai said the team must let their feet do the talking ahead of the Tokyo Games.

SA sprint king Akani Simbine couldn’t hide his ecstasy after leading Team SA to victory in the 4x100 men’s relay event at the World Relay Championships in Silesia, Poland on Sunday evening.

Simbine ran the final leg and recovered from a less than ideal handover from Clarence Munyai to produce a galloping performance that saw him beat his Brazilian counterpart by one-hundredth of a second to stop the clock at 38.71 seconds.

The 27-year-old, who won the SA 100m title at the SA Track and Field Championships in Tshwane in the middle of April, is one of Team SA’s major medal hopefuls at the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Beaming, Simbine said expected a "good show" at the coming Games that start on 23 July.

"We’re happy; we’re excited," said Simbine.

"We came here with a goal of actually winning but we wanted to make sure we can compete at an international level and hold our heads [high].

"I’m just happy for the guys, happy that we came here and we did the job and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and the guys’ rest of the season.

"It’s going to be a good show at the Olympics."

Victory meant South Africa qualified to take a men’s relay team to the Games.

It was one of the narrowest finishes, however, you will see in a relay event. 

Early in the final dash, Simbine was almost a metre behind Brazil’s finisher Paulo André Camilo De Oliveira, who must have thought his country took it at the photo finish.

On review, South Africa was declared the winner, to complete jubilation by SA’s awesome foursome.

"I knew I’d caught him and that it was going to be very close," said Simbine.

"I could feel that I ran really well in the conditions, which were cold, and I saw that when we crossed the line, he was dead.

"I was confident when we crossed the line."

Munyai, who ran third, was also excited by the performance but tried to keep a lid on expectations for Tokyo, saying the team must let their feet do the talking.

"I’m really happy right now," said Munyai.

"We trusted the team and we came out here with really good athletes and we were focused on doing the job and winning.

"We came out here and delivered. It’s just the next stepping stone towards Tokyo, so I’m really excited about that.

"But I don’t want to say too much about Tokyo. We’re just going to let our feet do the talking on the track."

Thando Dlodlo (1) and Gift Leotlela (2) were the other two SA members who ran in the final. 

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