Akani Simbine fired a warning ahead of Friday’s final, storming over the line in 9.82 seconds to win his 100m semifinal at the SA Senior Championships in Pretoria on Thursday.
Though his time was 0.07 inside the national record of 9.89, which Simbine set in Hungary in 2016, he was assisted by a tailwind and his time was not recognised as a new national record.
The Olympic finalist was nonetheless delighted with his performance in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics later this year.
“I’ve been working towards this for a long time,” Simbine said.
“Even though it’s wind assisted, I know it’s in the legs and this is the second time my body has gone this fast, so I’m really excited about what lies ahead.”
Meanwhile, former World U-20 Championships 200m silver medallist Gift Leotlela bounced back from injuries which had threatened to derail his career, running the race of his life to win his 100m semifinal in 9.94 (also with an “illegal” tailwind).
He was set to line up against Simbine in what was expected to be a thrilling final.
“It feels great to be running again, so I’ll take it, even if it’s wind assisted,” Leotlela said.
“I knew I could get there but I still have to work a little bit. I just need to focus on the final tomorrow and make sure I execute my race plan.”