Going unbeaten throughout a shortened 2020 season, Akani Simbine says he will enter the 2021 campaign with renewed confidence as he targets an Olympic medal in the flagship 100m sprint at next year’s Tokyo Games.
After winning the Gauteng North provincial title in March, rocketing over the line in 9.91 seconds in Pretoria, Simbine was sidelined along with all other athletes when the season was suspended by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Returning to action on the European circuit earlier this month, however, he stormed to victory in 100m races at meetings in Marseille, Rovereto and Bellinzona, before closing out his campaign by storming to victory in 9.96 in the short sprint at the Diamond League meeting in Rome on Thursday.
“I’m running well, I’m running fast and my body is strong, so I’m happy with my form,” said Simbine, who turns 27 next week.
“I’m also pleased that we were able to come out (to Europe) and run four races and get four victories. For me that’s a positive thing going into next year.”
Though his season’s best was 0.02 outside his national record of 9.89, Simbine dipped under 10 seconds for the sixth year in a row, despite competing in only five events in a 2020 campaign which had been severely disrupted.
Having earned 100m titles at the Commonwealth Games and African Championships in recent years, his consistency at the highest level had elevated the speedster among the contenders for the Olympic title in Tokyo, and he was eager to give it a shot.
“The 100m is all about confidence and my confidence is high at the moment,” Simbine said.
“I want to take that confidence into my training and my races next season, and make sure I put it all together in the Olympic season.”