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Simbine seeks the perfect finish to a stellar season
- Updated: August 31, 2016
When Olympic 100-metre finalist, Akani Simbine (Tuks/HPC), lines up to compete in the 100m at the Diamond League Meeting in Zurich on Thursday night, it will be an opportunity for him to reach another milestone.
This will be his last race for the season. Recently, at the Diamond League Meeting in Paris he finished second, which was a first for him. His previous best position in a Diamond League race was last year in New York when he finished third.
Simbine is certainly one of only a few local athletes who can claim that he has reached all the goals he set for himself for 2016.
He improved on the South African record on two occasions. The only athletes who were able to run faster times than Simbine’s best time of 9.89 this season, were Justin Gatlin (USA – 9.80), Usain Bolt (Jamaica – 9.81), Trayvon Bromell (USA – 9.84) and Jimmy Vicaut (France – 9.86).
The Tuks/HPC athlete also became the first South African sprinter since Danie Joubert (in 1932) to qualify for the 100m Olympic final. It can truly be said that Simbine has established himself as one of the best sprinters in the world.
Werner Prinsloo (coach) is quietly confident that Simbine is capable of another top finish in Zurich. ‘Most of the athletes who competed in Paris are also competing in Zurich, so Akani will know what to expect. I honestly believe that he will finish in the top three, maybe he could even win. It would be great if Akani could run another sub 10-second race, but that will be a bonus. As far as I am concerned the night will be all about positions.
‘Akani said to me earlier this week that all the travelling he had done throughout the season is beginning to catch up with him. It seems to be a case of the spirit still being willing, but the flesh not quite keeping up.’
The 800 metres for women has the makings of being one of the highlights of the evening. All three Olympic medallists will be racing and it could well be a repeat of what happened in Rio with Burundi’s Francine Niyonsaba again winning the silver medal and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui the bronze, challenging Semenya right until the end.
The big question is how deep into the red the Olympic Champion, Caster Semenya, will be prepared to push herself. She set personal best times in her last two races, running 1:55:33 in Monaco and 1:55:28 in Rio. Who knows, if her legs are willing she might just dip under 1:54:00 to get even closer to the world record time of 1:53:28, set by Jamila Kratochvilova from the Czech Republic.
Wenda Nel (Tuks/HPC) will be competing in the 400m-hurdles. Judging by the season’s results she should have a realistic chance of finishing in the top three.
Only Denmark’s silver medallist, Sara Petersen (53.55), Shamier Little (USA – 53.51) and Eilidh Doyle (Britain – 54.09) boast faster times than Nel’s 54.37.
According to Nel she owes it to herself to end the season with a fast time.
Picture of Simbine courtesy of Reg Caldecott