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Simbine out to claim another high-profile scalp in Jamaica

Simbine

Akani Simbine gets another chance to ‘avenge’ the result of last year’s Olympic 100-metre final in Rio when he lines up to race against Yohan Blake in Saturday’s JN-Racers Grand Prix meeting at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Simbine who finished fifth in Rio, got his first two scalps at the Doha Diamond League Meeting when he out-sprinted Justin Gatlin (USA) and Andre de Grasse (Canada) to win the 100m. The two of them finished second and third respectively in last year’s Olympic final.

Blake, a former world champion, finished fourth in Rio, beating Simbine by 0.01sec. If the Tuks-sprinter manages to beat Blake, the only one left he has a score to settle with will be Usain Bolt, who won the Olympic gold medal. When he does so, Simbine can lay claim to having beaten four of the best sprinters in the world.

Simbine and Werner Prinsloo (coach) are not known for speculating what might or might not happen. They prefer the results to speak for itself.

Prinsloo, never one to doubt in Simbine’s abilities as a sprinter, is hesitant to make a bold prediction about a possible victory for the Tuks athlete.

‘It will certainly be big if Akani wins in Kingston. I have no doubt that on a good day he is capable of out-sprinting any of the world’s top sprinterso but the timing of Saturday’s race is not quite perfect for us. I’m prepared to say that Akani will run a sub 10-second time and that he will finish in the top three.’

Saturday’s meeting is certainly historico as it is the last time that the ‘King of Sprint’ will race in front of his home fans.

At a press conference, Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills explained that Bolt had been the flag-bearer for the Racers Track Club for the past decadeo and that it was only fitting that he be honoured by the club before he takes his leave from competitive athletics.

‘It will be my last competition on home soil,’ said Bolt, whose first international success came in Kingston at the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships. ‘I might shed a tear, even though I’m not an emotional person as I close out where it all started on Jamaican soil.’

Simbine feels honoured to have been invited to race in this tribute to a legend meeting. ‘Racing at this event, knowing that it is Bolt’s last time competing in Jamaica is a great honour. He did so much for the sport, so just being part of his final journey is exciting and a way to say to myself there is a gap that needs to be filled,’ said the Tuks athlete.

There can be no arguing that Simbine has improved by leaps and bounds from last year’s Olympic finals. He proved it in Doha, becoming the first South African sprinter to win the 100m at a Diamond League Meeting. Further proof of Simbine’s prowess as a sprinter is the fact that he has already improved his tally of sub 10-second races to 13 this season. He’s also one of only a handful of athletes who has managed to sprint to a sub 10-second time in the 100m and a sub-20sec in the 200m on the same day.

Last weekend Simbine finished second in the 100m at the Adidas Boost Boston Games in Boston. Keston Bledman (Trinidad and Tobago) won in 10.21, with the Tuks athlete second in the same time. Jevaughn Minzie (Jamaica) was third in 10.30.

Pictures of Simbine courtesy of Reg Caldecott


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