Tokyo Olympics

SA's Akani Simbine confident as he looks to race in the moment in Tokyo

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South African sprinter Akani Simbine (Getty Images)
South African sprinter Akani Simbine (Getty Images)
Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

South African sprinter and possible medal prospect Akani Simbine feels confident as he kicks off his Tokyo Olympics campaign on Saturday.

Simbine has had a fantastic season so far and has been etching closer to an elusive podium spot.

Earlier this month in Hungary, Simbine demolished his own South African record and broke the 15-year African record as he won the men's 100m in 9.84 seconds (1.2m/s) at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial.

In May, Simbine led South Africa to gold in the 4x100m relay in 38.71 seconds at the World Athletics Relay Championship in Poland.

It was a historic occasion for the quartet and South Africa's first gold medal at the World Relay Championships.

Speaking to Sport24 in Tokyo, Simbine recounted his amazing year and hopes to build on that when the heats of the 100m is set to get under way from 12:45 SA time on Saturday.

"It's been an amazing year for me personally. Everything has just been coming into plan and that excites the coach and me, but the bigger goal is right now," said Simbine.

"One thing we need to keep reminding ourselves is that we need to be in the moment and race in the moment and be excited."

If Simbine reaches the podium, it'll be a historic moment for South Africa.

He will be bidding to become the first SA sprinter to win an Olympic medal since Reggie Walker's famous gold back in 1908 in London.

Simbine says that there's no pressure and he hopes to feed off that expectation.

"I would take it as a positive thing and I'll take it as a thing of people actually believing in me and believing in my talent and what I can do. So it's not negative pressure," he said.

"I look at it that way as that's the way I can feed off it in a positive way so for me, it's good pressure, good energy and it's just good for me." 

While Simbine's prospects are looking good, he is set to face a tough test as he'll be pitted against American trio Trayvon Bromell, Ronnie Baker, Noah Lyles and Canada's Andre de Grasse.

"We are feeling good and confident, we're looking forward to the weekend," said Simbine, who will also be competing in the men's 4x100m relay.

"We've been training this whole week, been doing what we need to do and the sessions have gone well. The coach is happy and I'm happy and we're going into the week feel good and confident.

"We had an opportunity to get into the stadium and that was great and acclimatise ourselves inside the stadium and we'll see how it actually is when we go and step up during racing. The weekend is going to be good and we're looking forward to it."

*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympic Games for Sport24

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