Simbine opens season with a bang

Akani Simbine. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

While the Tokyo Games, scheduled to start in July, are in doubt, he stuck up his hand as an early medal contender in the short sprint event.

National record holder Akani Simbine has fired a warning at the world’s fastest men ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, storming to an impressive victory at the Athletics Gauteng North provincial track and field championships in Pretoria on Saturday.

Simbine produced an explosive early season performance, clocking 9.91 seconds in the first round of the men’s 100m heats, crossing the line just 0.02 shy of his own SA record.

The Commonwealth Games champion went on to win the final in 10.01, finishing 0.07 clear of former national record holder Henricho Bruintjies.

While the Tokyo Games, scheduled to start in July, were in doubt due to the spread of the coronavirus, Simbine stuck up his hand as an early medal contender in the short sprint event.

Earlier on Saturday, teenager Phatutshedzo Maswanganyi also produced a memorable effort, charging home in 10.06 in the junior men’s 100m semifinals.

Maswanganyi, who went on to win the U-20 final in 10.24, sliced 0.05 off the SA junior record of 10.11 which was set by Thando Dlodlo on the same Tuks track two years ago.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Caster Semenya won the provincial women’s 200m title in 23.49 seconds.

The Olympic 800m champion later issued a statement confirming she would focus on the half-lap sprint while she remained indefinitely suspended from competing over longer distances.

Semenya, however, was 0.69 outside the qualifying standard of 22.80 for the women’s 200m event at the Tokyo Games, and she had some work to do to book her place in the SA team for the multi-sport showpiece.

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