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  • Writer's pictureMosibodi Whitehead

'I’ll just keep on knocking because I believe that once the door opens, it’s gonna open big' - Akani

While South Africa continues to search for its first medal at the Athletics World Championships currently underway in the USA, the country's premier sprinter has declared that it's only a matter of time before he finally steps on the elusive podium at a major global championship. Akani Simbine took fifth (10.01) in Saturday's men's 100m final, to go with his fourth place at the Olympic Games last year and another fourth place in Doha in 2019. But what could demoralise others to throw in the towel has Simbine motivated to keep trying.

"It's the hunger and always wanting to be better and always coming to get a medal and chase after that medal," he told World Athletics journalists during the mixed zone after his disappointing finish in Eugene, Oregon. "I’m one athlete that, I’ll make the final and I’ll just miss out on a medal but I’ll just keep on knocking on the door because I really believe that once that door opens, it’s gonna open big. So I’m motivated by that."

Simbine in action during the preliminary rounds of the men's 100m at the World Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Photo Credit: Supplied.

This time around, the reigning 100m Commonwealth Champion believes that it was his sluggish start that may have cost him a medal. Left for dead in his starting blocks, the SA 100m champion had to fight all the way to the line in order to claw back some respectability because during the first half of the race he looked in danger of finishing last.

"My start wasn’t as clean as the semi-final and that’s where I lost the race. But happy to be part of the final, happy to have placed fifth. A lot of people counted me out thinking that I wouldn’t be here," said the man who was the only African in a race where the Americans (led by Fred Kerley) swept the podium.

Simbine and Omanyala end in a dead heat at the recent African Championships in Mauritius where it took an agonisingly long wait of starring at the photo-finish to determine the winner. Although the Kenyan was given the title, the two were given the same finishing time (9.93). Photo Credit: Supplied.

That he was once again the continent's only representative in the final as was also the case when he made his first major final back in #Rio2016 is testament to the world class athlete Simbine has become. Africans had hoped for the South African to be joined by African record holder (9.77) Ferdinand Omanyala. But visa issues meant that the Kenyan only arrived in 'Tracktown' USA, just a few hours before his first race and he failed to reach the final as a result. Nevertheless, Akani believes that it's only a matter a time before African sprinters make their mark.

"There’s a lot of young African sprinters that are coming through. In the South African group I can name I think 5 or 6 guys. Also the young boy from Botswana (Letsile Tebogo) and Omanyala the Kenyan. There’s so many of us that are coming through. We can take the world on. It motivates me as well because I’m seen as one of the guys that have been in the game for a while and they think I’m leaving but I’m the same age as them. Anything is possible. We just have to keep on pushing," he said.

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