Modern Athlete Magazine Issue 127, February 2020 - Page 36

TRACK & FIELD Going for Tokyo Gold If all goes according to plan, South African 100m record holder Akani Simbine will line up for his race with destiny on Monday 3 August, in the 100m final of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – and his goal will be simple. “Gold. I want the gold. I want to win,” says the most consistent sprinter ever produced by Mzansi. – BY MANFRED SEIDLER A look through Akani Simbini’s stats shows just how hugely impressive he has been in recent years in the 100m sprint. Since breaking the 10-second barrier for the first time in 2015, he has gone sub-10 a total of 24 times, has never been ranked outside of the world top 20 in the event, and for the last four years been ranked in the world’s top 10. His 9.89-second SA Record, run in 2016, makes Akani the fourth-fastest African ever, and he claimed the gold medals at both the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Africa Championships. A time of 9.93 in London two years earlier would have earned him a World Champs silver medal, and just four 100ths of a second separated second from fourth in Doha in a very tight race, but Akani is frank as to why he was so upset. “There were things that I wish we had done in the season, training wise, that we didn’t do. We tried to do things at kind of the last minute and it obviously did not work out. I kept going back to that and said to myself ‘if only I had done this’. I knew in my races, and kept telling my coach, Werner Prinsloo, that we need to fix that last part of my race.” 36 ISSUE 127 FEBRUARY 2020 / Before that he finished fifth at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and fifth at the World Championships in London in 2017, and more recently took fourth place at last year’s World Championships in Doha, but he was not pleased with that performance. “I was upset. I was angry and disappointed. I was upset with myself, disappointed in myself.” That’s how Akani sums up his immediate post-race reaction after the men’s 100m final in Doha on 28 September, where he ran a season’s best time of 9.93 but had to settle for fourth.