World Relays champs and Olympic Games beckon

Sprint ace Simbine carries SA's hopes

Akani Simbine
Akani Simbine
Image: REUTERS/Alberto Lingria

SA's sprint ace Akani Simbine is expected to carry the hopes of the country at the World Relays champs and Olympic Games.

The 27-year-old Commonwealth gold medalist will spearhead the 4x100m relay squad at the World Relays taking place on May 1 and 2 in Poland.

Simbine, who is the SA 100m champion, has the backing of Hazekiel Sepeng, the Athletics SA excellence manager, and relays manager Danie Cornelius. Simbine secured a fourth-place finish at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in 2019.

But he is tipped to secure a podium finish at the Games and also to inspire the relay team to win a medal in Poland.

"We have great individuals that can put together a team and reach our full potential. We train together and spend a lot of time together. We have a great relay team and we need to keep calm and do our best," said Simbine.

Chederick van Wyk, Simbine, Clarence Munyai and Simon Magakwe are part of the relay team. Simbine will compete on three fronts in the world relays, Olympic Games relays and the 100m at the Olympics.

Simbine said there were lessons learnt from Doha two years ago and he hopes that his season will be a memorable one. "It's all about maturity and keeping calm and getting the job done. That is what is needed in Japan. We have to be 100% fit and focus on the job at hand. I think it is going to be a great year," Simbine said.

Cornelius, who is also the Tuks athletics director, said Simbine will surprise the world this year. "Akani is in top shape, focused and he will win a medal at the Olympics. He is at the peak of his career and he wants to prove a point and win at a major world event," said Cornelius.

Retired athlete Paul Gorries is the national relay team coach.

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