Cape Town - Any hopes of seeing Rio Olympics 100m finalist Akani Simbine up
against world champion Justin Gatlin on South African soil have been
given a false-start.
It was announced on Thursday that
American Gatlin would be in SA for the Athletics Grand Prix Series at
Tuks Stadium, Pretoria on March 8.
Rumours are that Gatlin specifically requested to race over the
seldom-run 150m distance so as not to have to face the Tuks Athlete so
early in the season.
At last year’s first Diamond League Meeting in Doha Simbine
outsprinted Gatlin to win in 9.99 and claim his first Diamond League
It’s a pity that the two champions won’t compete against each other
especially as the Tuks athletics track is known to be conducive to fast
times and it is at high altitude. The two champions probably would have
clocked fast times.
But Simbine’s coach, Werner Prinsloo, isn’t too fazed about his athlete not getting the chance to race Gatlin on his home track.
‘We’re not going to waste time thinking about what could have been.
Akani will compete in the 100m at the Grand Prix meeting as it’s the
distance in which he has set himself three major goals for the season.
‘He wants to medal at both the Commonwealth Games and the African
Championships and also set a new Africa record over 100m. That
means he will need to dip below 9.85. If he wins at the African
Championships, he will also get to compete at the Continental Cup.’
Prinsloo said he had not made any serious changes in Simbine’s
‘In the past, we specifically focused on making sure
that Akani is faster out of the starting blocks as he tended to lose
out over the first 20m in major races. But that’s no longer a problem.
If Akani has a good start, there are very few sprinters able to beat
‘At the moment it’s all about marginal gains for him to become a
consistent sub 9.90 sprinter. So we’re working on a few small things in
his technique. The nice thing about it not being an Olympic or World
Championships year is that we can afford to experiment a bit to see what
works and what not.’
Clarence Munyai is another of the top Tuks sprinters who won’t race
Gatlin. According to coach, Hennie Kriel, he is also going to race the
Last year Munyai set a junior world’s best over the 300m running
31.61 in Ostrava in the same race that Olympic 400m champion Wayde van
Niekerk ran a world best. Munyai also set a new South African junior
200m record, running 20.10 and won gold at the African Junior
Championships in Algeria.
Thando Roto (TuksAthletics) who ran 9.95 last year and won a silver
medal at the World Student Games is still recovering from an injury.