Werner Prinsloo, the coach of South African sprinting sensation Akani Simbine is beaming with pride after the athlete broke the national 100m men’s record while beating Jamaica’s Asafa Powell.
The victory and record came during a race at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial Track and Field competition in Budapest, Hungary on Monday night.
Simbine’s time of 9.89 allowed him to earn a surprise win over icon Powell, as the South African leaned forward at the finish to edge in front of his illustrious rival, who finished second in 9.92.
The South African athlete’s coach spoke about the massive boost that this has given the 22-year-old, and the fact that his peers at the top of 100m and 200m sprinting will have gained great respect for him after the run.
“In the past the South African athletes were usually in awe when they lined up to race against athletes such as Usain Bolt or Justin Gatlin, but I think after Akani ran 9.89s in Budapest the tables could have been turned,” Prinsloo explained, according to SuperSport.
“I am sure the world’s best sprinters will not feel overly confident when Akani is also in the line-up. They now realise that there is a good chance that he could outsprint them,” he added.
The Johannesburg sprinter also won the 200m race in Budapest, improving on his previous best of 20.23, which he had set at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing last year, by winning in a time of 20.16.
“I will be honest. I had many a sleepless night when I was wondering what could be done to get Akani to run faster times,” he said.
“Since January we had only one goal, namely to make sure that he was able to run times faster than 9.90s. That is what it will take to qualify for the Olympic 100 metre final,” the coach added.
The stunning victory and new record have inspired people in South Africa to dream of yet another potential medal at the upcoming Olympic Games, courtesy of Simbine. But his coach has admitted that a medal is not the current aim, with a place in the final a priority at the moment.
“We are not even thinking about winning any medal at the moment. All that matters is to ensure that Akani qualifies for the final. Once he has done that, there will be time to set a new goal,” he admitted.
Simbine is known for his excellent speed when finishing his sprints, and has put in a great deal of effort in improving the starts of his races. This has been the key to successfully improving his overall times, according to his coach.
“We always knew that if Akani could keep up with the best for the first 20 to 30 metres he would be able to beat anybody because his top end speed is so amazing. That is why we spent many hours to help him to be faster out of the starting blocks,” the coach said.
“The day before the Budapest race we again practised the starts. I then knew that he was ready to run a fast time because his execution of the start was perfect,” he added.
Unfortunately for South African fans, Simbine will not compete in the 200m sprint at the Olympics in Rio. He was not included amongst the three competitors for Team SA, as he has not competed in the 200m race at the South African Championships or the All-Africa Championships.
He appealed the decision, but according to TimesLive, the appeal was rejected and the original three athletes will compete in the 200m in Rio. They are Anaso Jobodwana, Clarence Munyai and Gift Leotlela.
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