Akani Simbine wins the 100m in Pretoria (© Roger Sedres)
South Africa’s Akani Simbine broke his own national 100m record with a 9.96 (0.4) clocking at the first ASA Night Series meeting in Pretoria on Tuesday (8).
Simbine, whose previous PB of 9.97 was set when winning the 100m title at last year’s World University Games, had a solid start and was level with Emile Erasmus for much of the first half of the race. But once the 22-year-old hit top speed, he eased away from the rest of the field to win by about three metres.
At first, 9.97 flashed up on the scoreboard but seconds later it was adjusted to 9.96, much to the delight of Simbine and the crowd at Pilditch Stadium.
“Already people have been asking me how it feels to run that fast and I honestly don’t know how to answer that question, but I’m really happy to run 9.96,” said Simbine, who previously shared the South African record with Henricho Bruintjies. “Everything just came together.
“Right now we’re still going to stick to the plan that we set out at the beginning of the season because it’s obviously working,” he added. “I’m going to make sure I’m ready for Rio and I’m still sharp at that time.
“I have the self-belief that I can compete with the big guys,” added Simbine, who clocked 10.02 in the semifinals of the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 to miss a place in the final by 0.03. “I believe it’s only a matter of time before I stand up against the best in the world.”
Only one man, Frank Fredericks, has ever run faster at this stage of the season. The multiple world and Olympic medallist clocked 9.94 in Sydney in February 1999.
Although Pretoria lies at altitude and so is conducive to fast times, Simbine bettered his 2015 early-season marks from the same venue on numerous occasions later that year at sea-level and with minimal wind.
In the women’s 100m in Pretoria, Carina Horn won in 11.23 from Alyssa Conley’s PB of 11.29, both Olympic qualifying marks. Conley then went on to win the 200m in 23.48.
Thapelo Phora, who will compete in the 4x400m at next week’s IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016, won the 400m in 45.64, while Orazio Cremona won the shot put with 20.05m.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF