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SA quartet in Doha Diamond League action

Diamond

A fast time is certainly on the cards Friday night as South Africa’s Akani Simbine and some of the world’s top sprinters line up for the 100 metres at the Diamond League Meeting in Doha.

It’s quite a scenario of the Who’s Who of world sprinting who’ll be racing. Justlin Gatlin (US), who won the silver medal at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio will be there, as will Andre de Grasse (Canada) who won the bronze medal.

Asafa Powell (Jamaica), a former world record holder, is another big name who will be settling in his starting blocks, while the ‘old man’ of international sprinting, Kim Collins (Saint Kitts & Nevis), is also racing.

But watch this space, as they say. Simbine could be the one who will be making sprinting history by becoming the first South African to win the 100 metres at a Diamond League Meeting. The Tuks athlete certainly has been in awesome form so far this season, clocking a time of 9.92 sec and upping his tally of sub 10-second races to 13.

Simbine proved at last year’s Olympic Games in Rio that he has completed his sprint apprenticeship when he finished fifth in the 100m final, clocking 9.94sec.

According to the season’s statistics, so far Simbine is the fastest athlete in the race. Werner Prinsloo, his coach, however, is quick to point out that this counts for nothing.

‘Justlin Gatlin and Andre de Grasse have not yet raced this season. As far as Akani and I are concerned, we are also at the start of a new season when he lines up at the start. I’m confident that Akani will run a fast race, as he had a good two weeks of training after the South African Championships. Our aim is to dip under 10 seconds.’

Prinsloo did not want to speculate on Simbine possibly winning. However, he is confident that Simbine will at least race to a top two finish. Depending on the form of the other sprinters, he might even get close to his personal best time of 9.89.

Cornel Fredericks and LJ van Zyl (both Tuks) are competing in the 400m hurdles on Friday night. The two of them were involved in one of the best hurdles races seen in Doha back in 2011. Van Zyl won in 48.11s, which is still the meeting record, with Fredericks second in 48.43s. In 2013 Fredericks finished third and Van Zyl sixth.

But the two Tuks athletes are in for a tough challenge. The race is something of a mini-rerun of last year’s Olympic final, as Kerron Clement (US), gold medallist, Boniface Muchera (Kenya), silver medallist, and Anssert Whyte (Jamaica), bronze medallist, are all racing.

Fredericks, who finished third in the 2014 Diamond League Race standings, admits to being slightly nervous.

‘The last time I competed in a Diamond League Race was in 2014. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. My main goal will be to try and run a time faster than 49.27s, which is my season’s best so far.

‘Luckily I have fully recovered from the lower back injury that kept me from competing at the South African Championships.’

Rio’s Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya is the other South African in action, when she takes on the two-lapper.

She has a season’s best of 2:00.99 and is up against a classy field, with only one athlete boasting a personal best of slower than 2min, American Charlene Lipsey (2:00.60).

Semenya’s 1:55.28 is the quickest of the eight-strong field, with Kenya’s Margaret Wambui next quickest with a 1:56.89.

Picture of Fredericks, Van Zyl, Semenya and Simbine courtesy of LJ van Zyl


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