Akani Simbine has established his place as South Africa’s fastest man in recent years.
Targeting his first major senior international title at the Commonwealth Games next week, we take a look at where he’s come from, where he is, and where he’s going.
2012 – Lusaka, Zambia
A 19-year-old Simbine announces his arrival on the South African sprinting scene, clocking a national junior 100m record of 10.19 seconds.
Simbine chops 0.11 off the previous SA Under-20 record set by Wilhelm van der Vijver four years earlier.
2013 – IAAF World Championships, Moscow
Simbine makes the South African team for the global showpiece based on his performance the year before, despite battling with injury, and while the experience may not pay off immediately, it will certainly bear fruit in years to come.
The speedster is knocked out in the 100m heats, clocking 10.38, but it will be his last major international appearance as just another ‘also ran’.
Simbine’s 10 Best 100m times:
9.89 – Hungary, 18 July 2016
9.92 – Pretoria, 18 March 2017
9.93 – Pretoria, 4 March 2017
9.94 – Rio de Janeiro, 14 August 2016
9.94 – Potchefstroom, 21 April 2016
9.95 – Potchefstroom, 21 April 2016
9.96 – Pretoria, 8 March 2016
9.97 – Gwanju, 9 July 2015
9.98 – Rio de Janeiro, 14 August 2016
9.98 – Pretoria, 18 March 2017
2014 – SA Senior Championships & Commonwealth Games
Simbine shakes off his injury troubles and finally graduates as a senior athlete by earning the 100m silver medal at the SA Senior Championships in Pretoria.
He narrowly misses out on his first sub-10 time in a historic race which sees Simon Magakwe become the first South African to break the magical barrier.
Magakwe crosses the line at the Tuks track in a time of 9.98 with Simbine finishing behind him in 10.02.
Later in the year, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he will taste success in the 200m sprint, finishing fifth in a personal best of 20.37, though he is eliminated in the 100m semifinals.
2015 – First sub-10
Making a real breakthrough at senior level, Simbine dips below 10 seconds for the first time in Velenje, Slovenia when he clocks 9.99.
He goes one better when he wins the 100m title at the World Student Games in Gwangju, equalling the South African record of 9.97 which Henricho Bruintjies set only four days earlier.
Simbine then takes another step forward at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing where he makes it into both the 100m and 200m semifinals.
2016 – SA records & Olympic success
Laying down an early marker, Simbine improves the SA record by 0.01 with a world lead of 9.96 in March.
He will go on to smash his own national mark a month before the Rio Olympic Games in Hungary, clocking 9.89.
In the process, he joins an exclusive club of 28 sprinters on the all-time list to have run faster than 9.90 seconds.
At the Games, he will go on to become the first South African man since Danie Joubert at the 1932 Los Angeles Games to make it into the final of the 100m sprint at the quadrennial showpiece.
He crosses the line in fifth place in 9.94, just three-hundredths of a second behind Canadian bronze medallist Andre de Grasse.
2017 – Sub-10 machine
This is the year Simbine will make sub-10 performances look easy, dipping below the magical mark eight times between March and July. By the end of 2017, Simbine will have 15 career sub-10 times behind his name.
In March he joins the so-called ‘sub-dub club’ by becoming the first South African and only the seventh man in history to run sub-10 and -20 times in the 100m and 200m events on the same day.
A niggling injury at the IAAF World Championships in London will ultimately scupper his chances of challenging for a medal, but he still manages to make it into the final for another fifth-place finish.
2018 – Going for gold
Having cemented his place as one of the fastest men in the world, Simbine has had a slower start to the season, as he targets major titles on the international circuit.
His first chance will be at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast next week when he chases 100m gold and anchors the national 4x100m team.
Proving he has the speed, 2018 will be all about medals, and he should line up among the favourites at the inaugural World Cup, the African Championships and the IAAF Continental Cup.
“I think I’ve gone past that point where I say let me just see if I can now it is ‘let’s go do this’ and put in the work to do this and execute so that you can do this.
“I believe I am worth a gold, I believe that I’ve done the work and my talent is at a point that I can get a gold and I should be getting a gold and be doing the country proud.”