Athletics

Simbine targets wins, not times for 2018

Akani Simbine (Gallo)
Akani Simbine (Gallo)

Cape Town - Commonwealth Games champion Akani Simbine has made it his goal to become a dominant force in the 100m this year.

That's why when he settles down into his starting blocks for the start of the 100m at Thursday evening's Diamond League Meeting in Rome the only thing that will matter is to win.

"This season we're not obsessed about running specific times. Winning is what matters," said coach Werner Prinsloo, as quoted by Team SA.

"But judging by the times, Akani ran during the week in training I won't be surprised if he dips under 10 seconds in Rome. It's a fast track and two years ago Justin Gatlin (US) ran 9.75sec there."

According to the Team SA website, meeting organisers view the 100m race as the headline race and with good reason. The world silver medallist, 60m world indoor champion and record holder, Christian Coleman will be running his first race on Italian soil and looking to avenge his recent defeat against US countryman Ronnie Baker, who defeated him in Eugene.

The line-up also features European record holder Jimmy Vicaut (9.86) and America's Isiah Young (9.97) as well as Turkey's world 200m champion Ramil Gulyev.

Simbine's best time so far this season is 10.03, the time he won Commonwealth gold with. It's interesting to note that by this time last year the Tuks sprinter had already run 9.92 and dipped under 10 seconds on another five occasions.

As to not yet having run a sub 10-second race this season, Simbine said: "Normally I would open my season with some real fast times. But I had many conversations, including with Usain Bolt, and they all advised me to save my sub 10-second races for later the season when it matters, and I am planning to do just that."

Prinsloo said he had not made any serious changes in Simbine's training programme.

"If Akani has a good start, there are very few sprinters who will be able to beat him. At the moment it's all about marginal gains for him to become a consistent sub 9.90 sprinter. So we have been working on a few small things in his technique. The nice thing about it not being an Olympic or World Championships year is that we can afford to experiment a bit to see what works and what doesn't."

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