Akani Simbine is officially the fastest man in South Africa on his own after he broke the 100m record with a time of 9.96 seconds at the first leg of the ASA Nite Series at Pilditch Stadium in Pretoria last night.
The Tukkies athlete had shared the national record of 9.97sec with Henricho Bruintjies.
Simbine faced a relatively strong field last night, although Bruintjies was not taking part as he will be going to the World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, in the US, which takes place from March 17-20.
Simbine, who has now run three times under 10 seconds, believes he can still improve on his times, which could get him closer to an Olympic final and even possibly a medal.
“I can go much faster timewise… but I am sure I can go much faster than this,” an elated Simbine said after the race last night.
“It is an amazing feeling, but it doesn’t feel real because it is my first race of the season.
“I’m surprised I’m in that shape already because we haven’t done much work… and I’m not really race-fit.”
The 22-year-old’s time was the best on home soil. This distinction had belonged to Namibian former world champion Frankie Fredericks, who also ran 9.96sec in Joburg in 1998.
Simbine added: “I’m just very excited to be where I am now and I hope I can build on this.
“South Africa has only seen a 9-second race once, and it is amazing that I am the second to show a 9-second race… I hope it is not the last one on home soil before I go into the international season.”
Disgraced sprinter Simon Magakwe, who is serving a two-year ban for missing a doping test, was the first South African to dip below 10 seconds when he ran a national best of 9.98 in 2014.
It was the ninth time Simbine had run the Olympic qualifying time of 10.16. Last night he beat Emile Erasmus (10.22) into second place, with Thando Roto (10.29) third.
Simbine enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2015, becoming only the second South African to dip below the 10-second barrier in Velenje before breaking Magakwe’s record at the World University Games in South Korea with a time of 9.97.
Last night belonged to the sprinters with SA women’s 100m record-holder Carina Horn posting her 10th Olympic qualifying time by winning her race in 11.23sec.
Alyssa Conley also booked her place for the Olympic Games improving her personal best by 0.22sec to finish in second place with a time of 11.29. Tebogo Mamathu finished third in 11.40.
Horn said Simbine accomplished what she had set out to do on the evening as she is also looking to become the sole 100m record-holder – she shares the national mark of 11.06 with Evette de Klerk.
“I’m very happy for him, so congratulations to Akani,” she said.
“(My race) was a bit bumpy, I just came back from Indoors, and I only learned two weeks ago that I have to run the outdoor season. I didn’t prepare for the 100m, so I am happy with the qualifying time.”[Source: Cape Argus/IOL]