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Simbine, Van Rensburg rock the night in Slovenia
- Updated: July 2, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
Akani Simbine spearheaded a sizzling night of athletics for South Africa in Slovenia on Wednesday night as he became only the second South African to dip under the magical 10-second barrier in the 100-metre dash.
Simbine won his race at the EA Classic in Velenje in a time of 9.99sec, clipping 0.03sec off his previous best. He was followed home by Rico Bruintjies (also one of a new wave of SA sprinters) in 10.15 while Gideon Trotter was fifth in 10.61.
The Tuks/hpc athlete became the world’s 103rd man to break the 10-sec mark. Simon Magakwe’s 9.98 is still the fastest by a South African but that performance came at altitude. Simbine’s time is joint 20th quickest in the world this year.
Before his season started Simbine had said his main goal for the season was to break 10 seconds. ‘However, when I started competing I had second thoughts and changed my goal to focusing on running the perfect race instead. I reckoned that if I managed to run the perfect race, sub-10 seconds would happen automatically.
‘For me being a good sprinter is all about consistency. This means that I do not chase fast times any longer, but rather focus on making sure that I do the small things right.’
Prophetic words indeed from a wise (and rapidly quickening) young man.
There was also a huge personal best by close on a second for Rynardt van Rensburg in the 800m as he took second spot while national 200/400m champion Justine Palframan also nailed second spot in the 200m.
Bosnia’s Amel Tuka won the 800m, also in a huge personal best by more than two seconds (1:44.19) and Van Rensburg was all smiles after his run which is both a World Championships and 2016 Olympic qualifier.
The 23-year-old marketing student at Kovsies barely slept a wink on Wednesday night and told Road to Rio 2016 early on Thursday morning that he knew something big was coming.
‘After my 1min 15.58 600m in January we knew the sub 1:46 had to come. At SA’s I ran 1:46.72 and 1:47.92 in the space of three hours and I knew my personal best had to come.’
On the race itself: ‘I came here last night and decided just to run the race and forget anything else. The pacer went through 400 in 50.01 and I was just behind him, it was fast. I thought it would be too fast and knew the last 200m would be tough. I did not feel too bad and kept on reminding myself over the last 200m what I am racing for.
‘The first guy had a gap of a few metres and it worried me not being able to catch up with him. At the finish line I saw the winning time flash up as a 1:44.20 and I knew I had it.
‘My official time came as a 1:45.40 – I was shocked, as I didn’t expect it to be that fast. Everyone told me I would run a 1:45 – Johan Cronje [world championships 1500m bronze medallist two years ago] whom I trained with a bit, former 800m champion Johan Botha who took a few training session times in Pretoria, my agent and my coach and dad Derek. I just had to believe in myself and last night I did.’
Before Wednesday, Van Rensburg’s best was the 1:46.36 he ran when placing third behind the late Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and Andre Olivier at national championships in Port Elizabeth three years ago.
‘Words just can’t describe the happiness and satisfaction after all these years of hard work. Being the 800m leader in South Africa on the first of July, the excitement of qualifying World Champs and Olympics… it’s something you dream about since a very young age and then one night comes and change your life.’
One of the first to congratulate the youngster was one of the greats of SA athletics Hezekiel Sepeng, Olympic silver medallist in the two-lapper in Atlanta back in 1996 and a man who celebrated his 41st birthday on Tuesday.
Sepeng was an inspiration to a teenaged Van Rensburg and told him: ‘What did I say to you champ? Well done I am proud of you and that was a great birthday present. Now I can sleep well tonight. Something big is coming.’
Next up for Van Rensburg is the World Student Games in South Korea which start on Friday and then his preparation for World Championships will begin.
The other South African in action was Ofentse Mogowane who took fifth spot in the 400m, clocking 45.63 in a race won by Pavel Maslak in 45.09.
In the women’s events, Palframan was the only South African participant on the night and clocked 23:36 in a race won by the host nation’s Maja Mihalinec (23.22).
She took a nasty tumble en route to silver. ‘There’s a first time for everything . Some how I managed to fall during the last five metres of my race, luckily ending up over the finish line .
‘A few grazes but nothing seriously wrong. I can say that’s an experience that does not need to be repeated.’