Johannesburg - Pretoria-based sprinter Akani Simbine dashed into the history books when he became the fastest South African abroad in the 100m at a European Permit meeting in Slovenia on Wednesday.
Simbine became only the second South African to run a sub-10 second race, clocking 9.99 seconds for first place with compatriot Henrico Bruintjies finishing second in 10.15s.
“I am really excited that I ran 9.99 seconds and to be part of that elite club and I am happy that I got it out of the way and that I did what I said I would do and that was to run 9 seconds in Europe,” Simbine said.
“I was pretty shocked running into a minus headwind and being able to run 9.99 seconds.
“Now that I’ve got it (sub-10 seconds) out of the way I will be able to run those times consistently and I hope to go even faster.”
The Tuks-HPC athlete fell 0.01 seconds short of equalling the national record held by Simon Magakwe but is the first to break through the barrier abroad.
In the process Simbine shaved 0.03 seconds off the previous best he posted at last year’s South African Senior Championships in Pretoria.
At the championships Simbine came painstakingly close to dipping below 10 seconds - the ultimate barometer for international sprinters - when he finished second in the race Magakwe became the first South African to do so.
Magakwe, who had been banned for two years due to a doping offence, broke the record he held with Johan Rossouw’s clocking 9.98 seconds.
Although Simbine also ran faster than the previous best of 10.06s with a personal best of 10.02s he was gutted at the time for not doing sub-10.
Simbine first grabbed the headlines in 2012 when he set a new SA junior 100m record of 10.19 seconds at the Zone 6 event in Lusaka, Zambia, smashing the previous record of 10.30 set by Wilhelm van der Vijver in Pretoria in 2008.
This year he had been threatening to reach the milestone running 10.09s in Stellenbosch and 10.08s in Rome earlier this season.
Bruintjies, who holds the third fastest South African time with Rossouw, has also been edging closer to the barrier.
In June he posted a personal best of 10.06s in Prague which was the fastest time by a South African abroad and at sea level.
South Africa’s sprinting stocks are gaining some serious value with Olympic finalist Anaso Jobodwana and one-lap sprinter Wayde van Niekerk leading the charge.
Jobodwana broke the 200m South Africa record in the Cayman Islands in May when he posted a time of 20.06s to see off Morne Nagel’s previous mark of 20.11s from 2002.
Two weeks later he improved on his time at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene, United States clocking 20.04s to get close to a sub-20 second race.
Andre Olivier finished in seventh place in the 800m clocking 1:46.10, while Stephen Mokoka was 14th in the men’s 10 000m with 27:43.73.
Van Niekerk has also been in record-breaking form first improving the national 300m mark at the Birmingham Diamond League meeting in June before improving on his own 400m record in New York.
In 2014 he smashed the 15-year-old South African record in the men’s 400m sprint in New York and repeated that feat with a new personal best of 44.24s at the same venue to beat Olympic champion Kirani James of Grenada.