Akani Simbine © Caldecott
Yesterday Akani Simbine proved that he has the ability to become the first South African sprinter to win a medal at a World Championships in the short sprint after running 9.93s in the 100 metres and 19.95s in the 200 metres. It might just happen in August in London.
Werner Prinsloo who coaches the Tuks athlete makes no secret that winning a medal in the 100 metres is a priority.
“I am confident that Akani has the ability to dip well below 9.90 seconds in the 100 metres, but we are not going to be obsessed with running specific times. It is the medal we want. It could be that Akani might have to race 9.80s or 9.95s to win a medal. You never know how the 100 metres is going to play out. What I can guarantee is that Akani will be ready.”
Simbine who oozed confidence after what can only be described as one of the most awesome sprinting displays by a South African sprinter at a meeting at the TuksAthletics-track seems to agree with his coach.
“I think I proved last year that I am a sub 10 seconds runner. Whenever I step onto the track to race the 100 metres you can expect me to dip under ten seconds. My coach and I set ourselves a goal that in bad race I should still run 9.99s and on a good day there is going to be no limits as to how fast I can go,” said the Tuks-athlete.
It is interesting to note that only six other athletes have managed to dip the sub 10 second and sub 20 second on the same day.
The first to do so was Calvin Smith in 1983 in Zurich. He ran 9.97s and 19.99s. Ato Boldon is the only athlete to have done so on more than one occasion. He achieved the feat in 1996, twice in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000. Before Simbine Femi Ogunode was the last athlete to do the amazing double. He did so in 2015.
It is his breakthrough race in the 200 metres which really excites Simbine. He had a point to prove after last year’s disappointment of not being allowed to race the 200 metres at the Olympic Games in Rio even though he had qualified.
“A sub 20 second race in the 200 metres is one of the first major goals my coach and I set. It was special to get the proverbial monkey of my back.”
Prinsloo never doubted that Simbine is capable of dipping under 20 seconds. He has no intention to make drastic changes to Akani’s training programme in the build-up to the World Championships.
“We will stick to the things that we know work for him. The important thing is not to overdo things.”