UP speedster Akani Simbine has broken the 100 m ten-second barrier for the third time in his career, running 9.96 s at the ASA Nite Series meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday 8 March. Having previously shared the South African record of 9.97 s with sprinting rival Henricho Bruintjies, Simbine will be pleased to claim the title as the country’s fastest 100 m sprinter for himself. With a personal best time that will certainly boost Olympic hopes, Simbine has been deemed the fastest 100 m athlete in the world so far this year.
Athletes in the 100 m sprint aspire to dipping below what many call the “magical ten-second barrier” at some point in their professional career. Once an athlete has achieved such an honour, they will find themselves ranked within an elite group of sprinters in the world. This dream first unfolded for Simbine last year when he ran 9.99 s at a meeting in Slovenia. He was soon overtaken by Bruintjies, who set a new South African record by shaving 0.02 s off of Simbine’s time. Simbine then equalled his competitor’s time at the World Student Games later that year in Gwangju, South Korea.
Having achieved a great start to one of the most important years in his career, he commented on his hopes for the Olympics, saying, “It is a great thing to be a frontrunner in a big year for South Africa’s sprinting nation. I have been blessed with a talent, and I am very grateful to be able to pursue it. I hope to run a PB that will get me into the final, and then achieve a good place in the final.”
When asked about whether the sprinting giants he will face in Rio intimidates him, he said, “No, anybody can be beaten. We are all human. I am going to Rio with the confidence that I can challenge every competitor I face.”