Simbine on track for Olympics - if it goes on

Akani Simbine (File)
Akani Simbine (File)

The coronavirus outbreak is having a severe impact on the international sports scene, but for now it is business as usual for Akani Simbine.

The Tuks athlete is focused only on being fast, having confirmed his place at the Tokyo Olympics by posting 9.91 in the Gauteng North Championships at Tuks in Pretoria at the weekend.

That is, however, if the Games should go ahead.

In light of so many international sports events already being temporarily suspended, there seem to be no guarantees at the moment. Like most athletes, Simbine is worried about the coronavirus outbreak, but at the same time, he is a realist.

“As an athlete, I can only focus on controlling the controllable. That is giving 100% during training and racing.

“The aim is to be the best I can if the Olympic Games should go ahead. You can’t be in a situation, thinking it is not going to happen and stop training.”

Simbine was certainly impressive on Saturday.

It was the first time he's raced this season.

His time of 9.91 is a mere 0.02 slower than his South African record of 9.89.

It was also the 25th time he's dipped under the magical 10-second mark. He won the final running 10.01. In the semi-finals, his time was 10.03, meaning he dipped under the 10.05 Olympic qualification standard each time he raced.

Simbine explained that while settling into his starting blocks, he only had one mindset - to push himself to the utmost each time he raced without getting injured.

“I wanted to be fast. It was exciting to open my season running 9.91. I know I am capable of being even faster. My technical execution was far from perfect.”

Over the last few metres of the 100m final, Simbine was seen doing “pistol shot” hand gestures towards Henrico Bruintjies who finished second.

“It was not intended to be disrespectful to anyone. I did so in the heat of the moment. I had a bad start to my race, was able to make a comeback and win. That excited me.”

He aims to compete in all three upcoming Grand Prix events. In Cape Town, he will be racing the 200m and in Pretoria and Potchefstroom the 100m.

“It is a conscious decision to race more in South Africa this season. The aim is to get mentally as tough as I can be so that when I get to run in Europe, I am up to any challenge.”

Bruintjies was equally impressive. The Tuks athlete clocked a time of 10.08 in the semi-finals as well as the final. According to him, he decided after last year’s dismal season that he needed to get his act together.

“I can’t remember when last I was so competitive in a 100m race. Still, it is not the best I can be. There are a lot of things I can work on to be even faster.”

Clarence Munyai qualified on Friday in the 200m for the Tokyo Games running 20.23 in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Phatutshedzo Maswanganyai set a new South African junior 100m record by running 10.06 in the semi­-finals.

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