'I'm peaking at the right time' says Simbine as he goes for Olympic gold
Akani Simbine believes he has peaked at the right time to win South Africa's first track and field Olympic medal as the athletics programme gets underway this weekend. The country's first 100m Olympic finalist is looking to go one better this time by finishing on the podium in what is arguably the most popular event of the Olympic programme. Simbine says everything is lining up nicely for him.
"We've had a pretty amazing season this year!" he told SASCOC's media team in Tokyo. "We started off with a bang and that was the plan to start off with a bang and make sure we continue with that momentum going into the Games. I think I've ticked all the boxes. I ran my personal best, I ran an African record a couple of weeks ago so I think I'm peaking at the right time. We feel like we are ready," said the man who's 9.84 now makes him the fastest on the continent.
After taking fifth place in the 100m at Rio 2016 behind the legendary Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, Simbine recognizes the opportunity to become the top sprinter of a new generation as the world anticipates the crowning of the first new 100m champion since Beijing 2008. "Over the years I've gained a lot of experience, being in finals, world champs finals and Olympic finals. I've learned from the greats in order to better myself. So I think right now where I am as an athlete I have gained so much knowledge to bring me to this point where I am a mature sprinter. I know how to control my races and I know how to run a championship," said the 2018 Commonwealth champion.
But following his fourth place finish at the 2019 World Championships in Doha, some pundits have questioned the 4-time SA champ's ability to produce a top performance when it matters most. He believes he has grown in maturity especially after leading South Africa to gold in the 4 X 100m relay at the World Relay Championships in Poland in May where he ran a sensational come-from-behind anchor leg. The 2015 World University Games champion says he now knows how to save his best effort for the big day.
"At the end of the day it's just to make sure I run a clean race. For me it's just to make sure I run the best race I can run. I just need to make sure I run a clean race because I know that if I run a clean race it'll be really good. Now it's literally about winning the race," he said confidently. The #Tokyo2020 athletics programme kicks off today with Simbine in action in round 1 of the men's 100m tomorrow (Saturday 31 July).