Pretoria - Top South
African sprinter Akani Simbine believes the country has the talent and the
ability to establish itself as a sprinting mecca following a week of superb
results on the track.
Last week Simbine
became only the second South African to dip below 10 seconds in the men’s 100
metres at a European Permit meeting in Slovenia.
Posting a personal
best time of 9.99 seconds he launched himself into the record books as the
first sprinter from this country to dip below the magical mark abroad.
In the process he
also clocked the fastest time in an international race and the fastest time at
“We (South African
sprinters) believe we can be one of the greatest sprinting nations and it is
not just the Americans, the Caribbean Islands and countries like that,” Simbine
said speaking to Sport24 from Gwangju City, South Korea where he will be
participating at the World Student Games.
The Tuks-HPC athlete
fell 0.01 second short of equalling the national record held by Simon Magakwe, but shaved 0.03 seconds off the previous best he posted at last year’s South
African Senior Championships in Pretoria.
Simbine had been
threatening to reach the milestone, running 10.09 in Stellenbosch and 10.08 in
Rome earlier this season and believed if the conditions were right he would dip
below the mark.
“I expected it
anyway, I just felt I needed the right conditions, I’ve had three meetings
before this race and they were all against the conditions for you to run a
sub-10, it was against a strong headwind, or it was cold which made it a slow
race,” he said.
“I knew if I was
given the chance and the right conditions I would run a sub-10.”
Four days after
losing to Simbine in Slovenia, Henricho Bruintjies went one better by setting a
new South African 100m record in a time of 9.97 at a meet in Switzerland on
The University of
Pretoria sprinter’s feat in Switzerland was the cherry on top of a superb week
for South African athletics and sprinting in particular.
A day before,
Bloemfontein-based speedster Wayde van Niekerk became the first African to dip
below 44 seconds in the men's 400m at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Paris.
Van Niekerk beat Grenadian Olympic champion Kirani James in a new
South African and African record time of 43.96.
James had to be content with second place, clocking 44.17 with David Verburg of
the United States bagging bronze in 44.81.
To add to the
excitement of South Africa’s sprinting prospects, Olympic finalist Anaso
Jobodwana improved the national 200m record twice in May.
Simbine said the fact
that all these sprinters were aiming to be the best spurred each other on.
“It has pushed me a lot
because I feel as if I want to be the best, Henricho wants to be the best and
Anaso and Wayde want to be the best,” Simbine said.
“That just pushes it
up a level because someone will drop that big bomb with a good time so you need
to step up every time you race.”
Simbine said while he
was happy that Bruintjies set a new South African record, his focus would be to
consistently run faster than 10 seconds.
“I am happy for him
that he dipped under 10 seconds and he ran fast, but I am more driven to dip
under 10 seconds again and I will have to go faster because we all want to be
the best in South Africa,” he said.
“The only way to do
that is to run faster than the other guy.”