Simbine on a mission to make SA a sprinting nation

Bid to unearth raw talent in rural and township schools

23 March 2022 - 08:09
By Athenkosi Tsotsi
Akani Simbine after his semi final in the mens 100m during the evening session of the Athletics event on Day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Image: Roger Sedres Akani Simbine after his semi final in the mens 100m during the evening session of the Athletics event on Day 9 of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

SA sprinter Akani Simbine is on a mission to unearth raw talent in remote areas to make sure the country builds towards being a sprinting nation.

Simbine's BackTrack Sports is partnering with SuperSport Schools on a project that aims to shine the light on primary and high school children. The objective of the project is to give youngsters a platform to showcase their talent and also get guidance from Simbine as to how they can maximise their talent.  

Entering his prime years as an athlete, after reaching the highs and becoming a brand through his immense talent, Simbine wants to give back to the sport while he is still active. The development project is close to his heart as he showcased in his Tembisa hometown. 

"For me, development of the sport and touching with areas that aren't really seen is important. For us at BackTrack and SuperSport Schools, it's about unearthing talent everywhere, not just in the cities and towns... it's going to rural areas and making sure we find the best talent," said Simbine. 

"That's where certain kids can change the sport. A perfect example will be Caster Semenya... she got the opportunity to show her talent and explore; look where she is now. It's important we go into the rural areas and townships to get young kids that are there for us to expose, we have so much talent in SA," he said. 

Simbine has been part of the generation of Semenya, Wayde van Niekerk and Anaso Jobodwana which put SA on the map as a potential "speed country". Having played their part, they are now in a position to relinquish the reins to the next generation.

"The next generation should be able to take the baton from us," said Simbine.

 "We've put our country on the map with athletics. Most of us are going to retire in the next couple of years and we need to start educating and mentoring the athletes that are coming through in the sport. 

"Telling them this is how we did it and how we stayed long in the game. It's just making sure the kids listen and take advice from us. When I go to school meets, I always make sure I speak to pupils to share my experience, how I did it and mistakes I made," he said.