Whoever wants to win the 100m event at Saturday’s Diamond League Meeting in Paris, France will have to run fast, really fast.
It’s a case of the who’s who of the season’s fastest sprinters lining up.
Michael Rodgers (USA) 9.89 seconds, Ronnie Baker (USA) 9.90, Bingtian Su (China) 9.91, Jimmy Vicaut (France) 9.92, Arthur Cisse (Ivory Coast) 9.94 and Akani Simbine (South Africa) 9.98 have all dipped under 10 seconds.
You know you’re in for a tight race if Yohan Blake (Jamaica) is one of two athletes on the starting list not yet to have dipped under 10 seconds this season.
His best time so far is 10.00 while Jeff Demps (USA), with a season’s best time of 10.02, is the slowest in the lineup.
Werner Prinsloo, who coaches Simbine, is excited about what might happen in Paris, especially after the Tuks athlete managed to dip under 10 seconds for the first time this season, last weekend running 9.98 in Madrid.
In spite of his fast time in the heats, Simbine was only third in the final in a time of 10.01 seconds, and according to Prinsloo, the result was not an accurate reflection of what Simbine is capable of at the moment.
‘If you study the race carefully, you’ll see Akani cramped twice. The first time was just as he got out of his starting blocks and suffered a second cramp in his one calf muscle after about 40 metres. It’s impossible to recover from a setback like that in the 100m. If that hadn’t happened, I’m sure he could have won and his winning time could have been close to 9.90.
‘But we accept the result. It’s part of the sport. Akani’s performance in Madrid proves we are on track to achieving what we want to and that’s to medal at the African Championships. For now, we are not too concerned about running fast times. Everything we do is to ensure that Akani peaks when it matters.’
Also competing on Saturday will be Thando Roto (Tuks), in the 100m B-race in Paris. Unfortunately, it seems as if he might not be at his best as he’s still recovering from flu. Commonwealth silver medallist Henricho Bruintjies will also be in action.
Meanwhile, it’s been learnt that Clarence Munyai (Tuks) who astonished everyone when he set a new South African 200m record during the national championships at Tuks when he ran 19.69 seconds, will not compete in any race for the rest of the season.
Lee-Roy Newton, his agent, announced on Thursday that Munyai has been working hard to recover from an injury picked up in April and is making good progress. However, his recovery has not been sufficient for him to compete at the level he expects from himself.
‘I’m incredibly sad and disappointed to have to withdraw from the rest of the 2018 season.
‘But, with feeling pain in my hamstring, my team and I feel it’s best to undergo further investigations to find the cause rather than risk further injury by competing.
‘I’m fully committed to the process I now need to go through to get fully fit again, and know what will help me through it all, is the thought of being back on track and running fast again next year. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this difficult time,’ said Munyai.
Also in action will be Caster Semenya as she aims to concentrate on her track efforts while efforts to challenge the IAAF’s new law governing testosterone levels in female middle distance runners and which comes into play on 1 November gather momentum.
She goes off in the 800m as the world’s fastest female over two laps (1:55.92sec in Eugene, Oregon).
The meeting record in Paris is the 10-year-old 1:54.97 set by Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo.
Photo: Simbine in local action, by Reg Caldecott