South Africa’s Akani Simbine Has The Potential To Medal In Rio

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Akani Simbine has shown form and determination to convince onlookers of his ability as a sprinter, and his potential to medal at Rio 2016.

Only two South African sprinters have been able to earn a medal in the 100 metres at previous Olympic Games, with Reggie Walker winning the race in London in 1908, and Daphne Robb-Hasenjäger finishing second in the final of the women’s 100 metres at Helsinki 1952.

Many believe that Team South Africa has within its ranks a sprinter who can update those stats, in Simbine, a High Performance Centre athlete at the University of Pretoria.

The 22-year-old’s season best time of 9.89s achieved in Hungary is the fifth best of any athlete so far during 2016.

Only Americans Justin Gatlin (9.80s) and Trayon Bromell (9.84s), Frenchman Jimmy Vicaut (9.86s) and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt (9.88s) have managed faster times during the athletics season.

Bolt and Gatlin are expected to fight for the medals in the men’s 100m in Rio, but Simbine’s recent form means that competitors may underestimate him at their peril.

Potential to medal in Rio

Simbine’s coach, Werner Prinsloo, believes that his athlete is quietly confident but aiming first to reach the final, as that is the main milestone in his mind.

“Judging by the way he has been training and his general demeanour I can’t help getting the impression that Akani is quietly confident. This is a good sign because it shows that he believes in his abilities as a sprinter,” Prinsloo said, according to SuperSport.

“But there are still times when Akani seems to have a little bit of self-doubt. There is no need for it. He is a good sprinter,” the coach added.

Prinsloo says that Simbine will not be speaking or thinking about a medal before he has qualified for the final.

“From the beginning of the year we only had one goal and that was to reach the Olympic final. With his winning time of 9.89 seconds in Budapest Akani proved that this is not unrealistic. If he should be able to run 9.9 seconds in the semi-finals he ought to go through,” the coach predicted.

“In the final it will be important for Akani to get off to a good start. Once he is at full speed he can keep up with the worlds’ best and even outrun them,” he explained.