Akani Simbine is the toast of South African athletics after setting a new national 100m record.
On Monday night at the Gyulai István Memorial in Budapest, Simbine smashed his very own South African 100m record with a new mark of 9.89 seconds, the first time that a local athlete has dipped under 9.9.
Former SA record-holder Henricho Bruintjies clocked the same time of 9.89 at the Gavardo Meeting in Italy on May 29, but it didn’t count as a new record as the wind reading was at +4.4 metres per second, which is well beyond the legal limit of +2.0m/s.
But for Simbine, the 9.89 will be the new standard as the wind was +1.9m/s, which is just inside the legal limit.
He beat a world-class field that included veterans such as Asafa Powell and Kim Collins, as well as American speedster Michael Rodgers.
Simbine’s time is the fifth fastest in the world this year, with American star Justin Gatlin heading the list with a blistering 9.80 that he produced at the US Olympic Trials in early July.
As for Simbine’s medal prospects, coach Werner Prinsloo says his charge will have to run at least in the 9.80s to have a chance.
He says: “We will stay [in Italy] to train for the next three weeks before Rio.
“He needs to keep the form going to Rio, then he can run a 9.80s and get into a final. Then anything can happen.”
And just to prove that his 100m time was no fluke on Monday, Simbine followed it up with a new personal best in the 200m of 20.16, beating his previous mark of 20.23.
That was a strong message from him to the ASA selectors after he was only chosen for the Rio 100m, despite having a time of 20.29 in the longer sprint.