Athletics

Akani Simbine among the favourites at Florence Diamond League

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SA sprinter Akani Simbine (Gallo)
SA sprinter Akani Simbine (Gallo)
Lefty Shivambu/Gallo

Olympian sprinter Akani Simbine will lead a three-person South African contingent at Thursday's third leg of the Diamond League series in Florence, Italy.

Simbine will line-up in the men's 100m and will turn out among the favourites for victory.

In April, Simbine dipped under 10 seconds, winning gold and clocking 9.99 seconds at the SA Senior Championships in Tshwane.

However, the 27-year-old will need to be at his best against a field which includes Arthur Cisse of the Ivory Coast, who finished second behind Simbine at the 2018 African Championships in Asaba, Nigeria as well as European indoor 60m champion Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Italy and British sprinter Chijindu Ujah.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Wenda Nel will be eager to build on her form in the women's 400m hurdles race.

She will enter the blocks next to the likes of Olympic silver medallist Sara Petersen of Denmark and in-form Dutch athlete Femke Bol.

SA 400m champion Zakithi Nene, who holds a season's best of 45.03, is the third fastest man this year in the men's one-lap field.

He too will face a strong challenge against the likes of Commonwealth Games champion Isaac Makwala of Botswana and World Championships silver medallist Anthony Jose Zambrano of Colombia.

"We welcome any opportunity afforded to our athletes to get competition especially at this time when they are scarce throughout the world," said James Moloi, the President of Athletics South Africa.

"The good thing is that a sizeable number of our athletes have demonstrated preparedness for the Olympics, so we urge our three athletes to make the best of it."

Schedule of SA athletes:

20:03 - Wenda Nel in the 400m hurdles women

20:13 - Zakithi Nene in the 400m men

21:48 - Akani Simbine in the 100m men

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