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Akani Simbine aiming for fun as he eyes third Italian Diamond League win

David Isaacson Sports reporter
Akani Simbine, gunning for a third Italian Diamond League crown in Florence on Friday night, says training is about pressure and racing about enjoyment.
Akani Simbine, gunning for a third Italian Diamond League crown in Florence on Friday night, says training is about pressure and racing about enjoyment.
Image: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

As Akani Simbine guns for the third Italian Diamond League crown of his career in Florence on Friday night, he says the race against a stacked field will hold more enjoyment than pressure.

He was addressing a press conference alongside world champion Fred Kerley, who won the 100m in Rabat on Sunday, pushing the South African into second place.

The field will also feature the US’s other two minor medallists from the 2022 world championships, Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell, as well as African and Commonwealth Games champion Ferdinand Omanyala and Jamaica’s former star Yohan Blake.

Italy’s Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs, still troubled by the back niggle that kept him out of the Moroccan meet, withdrew from Florence on Wednesday.

Simbine, looking relaxed in the press conference that was streamed live, said training was about pressure and racing about enjoyment.

“In training, coach gives us targets to run and that's pressure,” said Simbine, who has won on the Diamond League circuit five times, with victories in Italy 2020 and 2021. 

“You need to make sure you're running those times at training, because if you don't run then you know you're not going to get it in a race,” he added.

“The pressure's there [in] training, and when you get to the track now you can actually enjoy it, have fun and entertain.”

Simbine, 29, said he preferred racing against stacked fields.

“I think it's good having top competition out there at all the races. I think we all are competitors and we step on the line to win and having a high-calibre race is just what we want. We don't want to just get to a race and just have an easy day.”

Simbine and Kerley were both asked what they were looking for at the upcoming world championships in Budapest.

“Double gold, that’s what I’m aiming for, double gold,” said Kerley. But he will have to beat Simbine.

“For me to, you know, do the best I can and run the race I need to race, and Fred says he wants to go for the gold — I also want to go for the gold, so yeah, I guess it’s gonna be a show,” said Simbine. 

Kerley was wearing a cap sporting a goat, representing his goal of becoming a greatest of all time in the sport.

“I’ve been wearing this hat this year and my ultimate goal is to be up there with all the greats before me — the greats of America, the great of the world. We’re all reaching for the stars.”

Friday’s race in Florence, scheduled for 9.39pm, is a step on that journey that others, including Simbine, are also taking. 

“Hopefully it’s lucky No 3,” Simbine said of his Italian venture.

The meet will be screened live on SuperSport 208 from 8pm.

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