Winning the 100m in a Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday night is the only goal on Akani Simbine’s mind at the moment.
The Tuks sprinter and Commonwealth Games champion has said for some time that the 100m is his big focus for 2018 if he wants to be a dominant force.
“This season we are not obsessed about running specific times. Winning is what matters. But judging by the times, Akani ran during the week in training I won’t be surprised if he dips under ten seconds in Rome.
“It is a fast track. Two years ago Justin Gatlin (USA) ran 9.75 there,” said Werner Prinsloo, Simbine’s coach.
The organisers view the 100m race as its headline race and with good reason.
The world silver medallist, 60 metres world indoor champion and record holder Christian Coleman will run his first race on Italian soil and will be looking to avenge his recent defeat against his US fellow countryman Ronnie Baker, who defeated him in Eugene.
The line-up also features European record-holder Jimmy Vicaut (9.86) and the USA’s Isiah Young (9.97) as well as Turkey’s world 200 metres champion Ramil Gulyev.
Simbine’s best time so far this season is 10.03.
It is interesting to note that by this time last year the Tuks sprinter had already run 9.9 and dipped on another five occasions under 10 seconds.
As to not yet having run a sub 10-second race this season, Simbine said: “Normally I would open my season with some really fast times.
“But I had many conversations, including with Usain Bolt, and they all advised me to save my sub 10-second races for later the season when it matters, and I am planning to do just that.”
Prinsloo said he had not made any serious changes in Simbine’s training programme.
“If Akani has a good start, there are very few sprinters who will be able to beat him. At the moment it is all about marginal gains for him to become a consistent sub-9.90 sprinter.
So we have been working on a few small things in his technique.
“The nice thing about it not being an Olympic or World Championships year is that we can afford to experiment a bit to see what works and what doesn’t.”