Simbine smashes sub-10 - Again!
Every season since 2016, Akani Simbine has gone under 10 seconds in the 100m on home soil before heading off for his European campaign. 2021 is no different after South Africa's fastest man ran 9.99sec to win Athletics Gauteng North (AGN) Provincial Championships at the Tuks Stadium yesterday. And this performance will have been quite the statement because it was run into a 3m/s headwind!.
Man on a Mission
On Tuesday 23 March Simbine ran 10 seconds flat for the 100m in his season opener at the ASA Athletix Invitational Meet powered by Avanti. This was with a tailwind. But by his high standards, that was not good enough, even if it was his first competitive outing of a year where uncertainty about whether or not athletics events will go ahead has been the only certainty.
So come the AGN Championships, Akani was wanting to make an emphatic statement. Especially after his performance in 2020 (a week before the country went into lockdown) when he ran 9.91sec in the heats at the very same championships. Alas, the wind had other ideas. A strong headwind which had been blowing since Friday meant that the times athletes were looking for were not on the cards. After opening in the heats with a 10.13sec with a slight tailwind, it all started to unravel as the semi-finals came around. The wind had turned 180 degrees and was now gusting at over 6m/s – nevertheless, Simbine ran a solid 10.44sec.
“It was so disheartening”, said the South African Record Holder after the race. “I mean what is the point? But what can we do?” When he crossed the line in 10sec flat in the final, Simbine rolled his eyes. “I was like damn, it’s another 10sec race, but you know with this wind, I’ll take it.” He was all smiles after seeing the official time which read 9.99 seconds into a 3m/s headwind. That counts for a lot.
“Yeah that was a relief," Simbine said with his trademark broad smile. “Like I said, I would take it, but a sub-10, especially in these times, that is a marker. So that is really good news.” And he needed a marker following Ghanaian Benjamin Azamati-Kwaku's 9.97 second run in the Texas Relays, making Akani’s time the second fastest time of the year. He was relegated to the third fastest time after Ronnie Baker scorched to a 9.94sec 100m later that day.
200m fireworks loading
Simbine is looking forward to the 200m clash on Tuesday 30 March in Ruimsig, Roodepoort, when he goes up against former World Championship 200m Bronze Medalist, Anaso Jobodwana, and 400m Olympic Champion, World Record Holder and good friend Wayde van Niekerk. Akani has always relished going up against the best. “It was great to see that no one shirked the races this weekend, there were some injuries, but that can’t be helped. But everyone that had to be there if they were fit, were there.” It is this attitude of wanting to race the best at their best that Simbine will take into the race on Tuesday. The only blip is that in-form Luxolo Adams will not be lining up in Ruimsig on Tuesday. The former South African 200m champion picked up an injury in the 200m finals of the AGN Championships on Friday 26 March. Adams had pushed Simbine to the line last Tuesday in that 100m and with the 200m his specialist event, he could have made a serious statement.